September 29, 2009

A Call for Help

First of all, thank you so much for your support and all your comments on my last post. I have never seen such an amazing outpouring of support, much of it coming from people who never had the pleasure of meeting Jewelyn. All you have to do is click here to see how many people are thinking of Jewelyn and her family and spreading the word as far and wide as possible.

This little announcement is copied and pasted from here:

As many of you know, our fellow nestie and dear friend, Jewelyn, passed away on Sunday, September 27th due to an amniotic fluid embolism, just hours after giving birth to her first child, Gabrielle.

Gabrielle is doing well and will be released from the NICU this week.

Jewelyn's husband, Philip, is going to need all the help he can get over the coming months and years.

A PO Box has been set up to receive formula checks and diaper coupons. Any and all brands will be accepted, and whatever Philip doesn't use will be donated to the Liz Logelin Foundation.

Formula checks and diaper coupons can be sent to:

Jewelyn Okamoto Memorial Fund
PO Box 235971
Encinitas, CA 92023-5971


If you need to put a face to all this, here she is:

She was so excited to be a mom after having had a devastating miscarriage in 2008. We were all so thrilled for her. She was a passionate educator of unruly youngsters. She had the biggest smile. She loved rabbits. She was just a genuinely good, nice person who never had anything bad to say. We called her "sushi" because one of her screennames was sushi 'n' lumpia. To this day, it's hard for me to call her Jewelyn. She'll always be sushi to me.

We love you, sushi! Safe travels, my friend.


Thanks, everyone, for all that you've done in the way of support. My last post is still open for comments, and I'm still planning on donating $1 to the fund for each comment I get. Keep 'em coming! And please, keep spreading the word on your own blogs, through Facebook, email, and twitter, and whatever other means you can think of. We all appreciate your efforts so much!

(Photo from here.)

September 27, 2009

Sadness and Gratitude

So I said I was going to take a mini-break from blogging. Truth be told, last night I was in a sad state and I didn't feel like putting it out there for the whole world to read. Yesterday morning I went to a message board I recently started re-frequenting to check on a woman named Jewelyn that I've known casually for several years. She was due to have her baby girl yesterday, and I knew she was getting induced.

I was delighted to see that she'd gone into labor on her own. This was something I wanted for myself so badly, and we all know how that ended up... but that is beside the point. I'm glad that she didn't have to be induced, since it can be such a nasty business.

She had posted a new thread asking for labor and delivery advice from mothers on the board, and as I read through the thread, I found myself getting sad to the point where I was crying. Every single piece of advice to her felt like a knife in my heart. There were things said like "Your body was meant to do this" and "Cherish every moment, even the hard ones."

Clearly this advice was coming from people who had relatively uncomplicated labors. I couldn't help it - I took it really hard. After all, my body failed me during my labor, making it impossible for me to cherish anything about my birth experience. I felt so bitter about this innocent advice thread that I went and signed up at the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) website - it had become obvious to me that I needed support from people who had been there.

I spent much of yesterday with that familiar feeling of failure. I just felt sad, with all those awful feelings surrounding Charlie's birth washing over me.

This morning I went to check the board for a post announcing the birth of Jewelyn's baby. I was really sad to see that Jewelyn had had an emergency C-section. I felt awful for her, especially because I knew she had labored for hours. I posted something to that effect and left the board.

I checked back in maybe ten minutes later and was shocked to read that Jewelyn had suffered an amniotic embolism, had no brain activity, and wasn't going to make it. Childbirth had killed her.

Since finding out the news, this whole day has been lost. I can't think of a better word than lost. I can hardly think; I've been glued to the computer; I've been trying to make sense of this tragedy. And well, I can't make any sense out of a newborn baby girl without her mother and a husband without his wife. It is horribly, devastatingly unfair.

This has put my whole life, and especially my birth experience, into perspective. Yes, it was not ideal. Yes, it completely sucked. Yes, I will probably never really get over it. But I lived through it. And Charlie lived through it. What the hell more can a woman ask for?

Please, please, please keep this family in your thoughts. And if you feel so inclined, make a donation to Jewelyn's family through PayPal: the email address is It doesn't have to be much - even a dollar would be great. But they will need help.

And do something else for me, would you? Go hug your loved ones and tell them that you love them. You never know when your time is up, so cherish it. Make today count.

As for me, I'm going to get in touch with a local ICAN support group and start attending meetings. I want to move forward with hope instead of looking back with bitterness. I want to be a better person. Because when Jewelyn died, we lost a genuinely good person. We're all going to have to be better to make up for losing her.


For each comment I get on this post, I will donate $1 to Jewelyn's family's fund. So get to commenting, folks! And spread the word. Let's take care of this family.

September 26, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 30: Clean, Green Livin'

My sister-in-law Mandy sent me a link to The Story of Stuff video last weekend, and I have to say, with Operation Purge in the works, her timing couldn't have been better. If you have twenty minutes to spare, watch the video. It's extremely inspirational. It talks about how our stuff (meaning our various belongings) is made and what impact this has on the world.

Taking care of the planet has always been important to me. Here are the things we currently do to live a clean, green lifestyle:

1) We drive small cars that eat less gas. In a perfect situation, we'd be able to exist with just one car, which would be a hybrid. We try to walk when we can. If we had a better public transportation system in our area, we'd definitely use it.
2) We use cloth diapers and wipes for Charlie. We do use one disposable diaper a day, to try to catch Charlie's morning poop, and when he does poop, we use disposable wipes because they clean him up more easily. We also use disposable wipes when we're out and about because they take up less room in the diaper bag. But most of the time, it's cloth.
3) We recycle. We recycle more than we throw away, actually.
4) We don't buy bottled water. Instead we have a water purifier on our tap, and we use that to fill our various water jugs.
5) We have reusable bags for grocery shopping. I tend to forget them often, but I never throw away the paper or plastic grocery bags. I use them for shipping out books.
6) We use eco-friendly laundry detergent and try to use either vinegar or Method products for cleaning (although we do have our fair share of chemicals in the house, which we will use up and hopefully never buy again).
7) We have a clothesline. I would love to use this more often if I could figure out how to make our wet clothes not come out stiff after being hung to dry.
8) We feed Charlie organic formula, and when he starts solids, I will be making his baby food myself. (I am seriously so excited about this.)
9) We shop at our local farmer's market.
10) We donate things and have yard sales instead of throwing stuff away.
11) When we get books, I try to get them through Paperbackswap. I built Charlie's entire library this way. It's a good source for getting rid of unwanted books as well.
12) We reuse things, like gift bags and tissue paper, instead of buying more. This goes for a lot of things around the house.
13) We print on both sides of the paper.
14) We try to turn off lights when we're not using them and regulate our air conditioner.

The video has also made me think of a lot of things that we can do to live a cleaner, greener lifestyle. Here are some changes we'll be implementing for our lifestyle:

1) We are going to start using reusable sandwich and snack bags instead of using Ziploc bags. Not to mention cloth napkins and cloth towels (instead of paper napkins and paper towels).
2) Once we're out of our vast collection of shampoos and conditioners and body washes, I'd like to see about making my own or just buying an eco-friendly version.
3) We'll buy things used more often. We just made a big purchase for Charlie on Craigslist this past week: an exersaucer!

It's in excellent condition, and we got it for an excellent price. (Please ignore the fact that it's made out of plastic.)
4) We will try to support small businesses more instead of big corporations.
5) Whenever we actually have a backyard that isn't made up entirely of cement, we'd like to have a garden.
6) I'd like to recycle my current wardrobe instead of getting rid of pieces and buying more. And when/if I do buy more clothes, I'd like to get them at thrift/consignment stores. Obviously I won't be wearing anyone's used underwear or shoes. We all have our limits!
7) And I'd love to learn to sew clothes.

Living a life that respects the earth makes me happy. I know that we could always be better at it, though, so give me some green tips of your own, please. Tell me what you do to save the planet.


Thanks for tuning in to my 30 (plus) days of happiness. It was a great exercise for me. I definitely was counting my blessings and I realized all that I have to be grateful for. Life is better to most of us than we realize, I think.

After posting so much in the last month, I think I'm going to take a short break away from the blog to try to catch my breath and get caught up on life stuff. See you soon!

September 25, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 29: They Like Me! They Really, Really Like Me!

I love being proven wrong.

Let me explain. I never feel the need to be right, but I always feel the need to be heard. I don't care if I lose an argument as long as the person I'm arguing with has heard me and understands what I'm saying. Then I am happy to apologize and move on. (Of course, sometimes people don't give me the satisfaction of hearing me. It's really annoying, and I'm really stubborn about beating a dead horse when the horse is already so dead it's got maggots and flies on it. It's something I'm working on, this needing to be heard thing.)

But anyway. I had a whole other post lined up for today, but something so miraculous happened that I am pushing that post to tomorrow so I can write about this today.

My friend Jessica emailed me today, wanting to let me know that an announcement about my not returning to work was sent out to the department. She told me that many people came into her office, expressing sadness that I won't be coming back to work.


I was shocked. For one, I didn't expect an announcement to be sent out. For another, people are sad that I'm not coming back? Me? The paper pusher gal who sat in the smallest office in the entire building? The one who was stuck in a dead-end administrative-level position and didn't mind expressing her dissatisfaction with it?

Yep, that's the one.

And then I realized that it wasn't my work skills they were going to be missing. They were sad about losing me. Not an administrative assistant. Not a peon and office drone. Me.

It's funny that I'm so surprised over this. I mean, after all, I've had plenty of friends who have moved on from jobs we've had together. The impact it had on me was enormous. I just didn't think it would affect many people in my office. I really thought that everyone would say, "Huh. Well, I guess we'll have to hire a new admin. Moving on!"

But I guess I was wrong. I guess that I had underestimated the impact that I had on others. I've spent my whole life wanting to help people, wanting to have a large-scale positive influence on others, and I seem to have overlooked the fact that one can be a positive force in someone else's life on a smaller scale.

It seems that just by showing up to work every day and making stupid, sarcastic jokes, I will be missed. People will miss me. I overlooked this. I defined myself too much by my position and stupidly forgot that before I was an admin, I was always a human being. I feel, well, humbled. I now know that the last three years were not a waste of my time. Because I made a difference.

Those of you out there who work in jobs you can't stand, take heart and remember that no matter how much your job sucks and how demoralizing it can be, you can still do great things - just by being who you are. They do say that half of life is just showing up. And well, that's what I did. I showed up to work. I didn't help land any big contracts. I didn't earn my company a bunch of money. I just sat in my office and did my work and just knew that I was completely replaceable and expendable.

Now you see why I love being proven wrong.

September 24, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 28: The Difference a Year Can Make

September 24, 2008

September 24, 2009

When those pregnancy tests above came out positive one year ago, it was truly one of the most surreal moments of my life. That moment, in our bathroom at our old apartment in the wee hours of the morning, set into motion the most amazing year of my life.

Food aversions. Nausea. Insomnia. Exhaustion. Extreme thirst. The sweetest fetal heartbeat. Glowing skin. Shortness of breath. Emotional overload. The sweetest baby kicks. Exhaustion. Swollen everything. Extreme hunger. The most painful baby kicks. Sprained ribs. Screwed-up back. Extreme discomfort. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Induction. Hours of hard labor. C-section.

Finally, the sweetest, most perfect baby. Worth every single moment of heartache, uncertainty, fear, sickness, exhaustion, discomfort, trauma, and recovery.

I love my sweet boy. There's not a day that goes by where I don't think of how lucky I am.


Charlie weighed in at a whopping 19 lbs 5 oz at his doctor's appointment today. We were shocked, especially because he weighed in at 17 lbs 10 oz on September 11. He just decided to skip over weighing 18 lbs, apparently. I can't even begin to understand how it is he so easily packs on the pounds!

Last night Charlie was very, very cranky and very, very feverish, and it soon became obvious that he was not going to go to bed in the normal way. So we ended up taking him for a two and a half hour car ride. We got home at 11:30 PM and settled in for a long night.

As it turned out, it wasn't that bad. The car ride did its thing, and he was able to sleep "normally" for the rest of the night. He woke up pretty much every hour, I think, but he didn't eat much. Most of the time he just wanted some physical contact. When he woke up this morning, I could tell instantly that he was in a better place. He was smiling and was much less fussy - and his fever had gone away.

We took him to the doctor anyway, and sure enough, our boy has a virus. Not much we can do except keep him comfortable. Knowing that he's sick hurts my heart, but I have to admit that I am loving how much he wants to snuggle. He's fallen asleep on me several times today, and instead of trying to develop good sleep habits and get him to sleep in his bed, I've let him stay there. I remember what a source of comfort my mom was to me when I was sick as a child. Nobody could take care of me the way she could.

There is simply nothing that compares to being needed this way.

Except for a healthy baby. So we're feeding him often, supplementing with Pedialite when necessary, and giving him lots of love. Keep us in your thoughts, would you, please?

September 23, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 27: Healthy Husband, Cranky Child

Today I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel of sickness as we confirmed that Roy no longer had a fever and was feeling better than he had in days.

This came after a particularly challenging night where it took two hours to get Charlie to go back to sleep after he woke up around 2 AM for the 129879743 time. I may have enlisted Roy's help to shake the pack and play to help Charlie go back to Dreamland. (We find that the motion helps settle him. But it is as inconvenient as it sounds. You'd think that we'd be able to put Charlie down and he'd fall asleep. Uh, no.) Anyway, Roy wore a mask and soaked himself in antibacterial hand gel and took on the job so I could close my eyes for a few minutes. Imagine my surprise when I woke up about two hours later and Roy was still there shaking the pack and play. I am pretty sure I woke up a couple of times during that two hours, and I may have even fed Charlie again - but at this point, all the nights are running together and I can't remember what I did when.

I see sleep training in our future, and this totally bums me out. I guess there is the chance that Charlie will work through this on his own, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really, really discouraged.

I am so happy that Roy is feeling better. I hate seeing him sick, and I got a definite taste of what single parenthood is like. Hard, hard, hard. I am amazed at those who do it. Single parents get nothing but love from me.

Naturally, Roy is glad to be feeling better, too. I know he missed being able to hold Charlie and spend time with him.

The bad news is Charlie was insanely cranky all day. He has developed a cough, and while he doesn't have a fever, my gut instinct is that he's feeling under the weather. We'll be keeping a close eye on him and will need to take him to the doctor if things get any worse.

Even though this week has pretty much sucked so far, I am so grateful for my healthy husband and cranky child.

ETA: Actually, I was wrong. Charlie does have a fever. Poor baby! We'll be calling the doctor first thing in the morning.

September 22, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 26: The Great Escape

Yesterday I did the unthinkable, that thing that is especially unthinkable in such an unstable economy.

I quit my job.

The truth is, I've landed a much better gig. I've graduated from peon to mother - and now the only person peeing on me is Charlie. I was hoping it would turn out this way, but it wasn't until very recently that we decided to take the plunge. And so I am now something I never thought I would be, something I never even really thought I wanted to be until I got pregnant.

A stay-at-home mom.

When I started my job (the one I just quit) three years ago, I was so excited! Finally, instead of serving burgers and beer and working three hours a day, I had a real job. Instead of serving all the office workers on their lunch break, I would be served on my lunch break. I would have a steady income and a 401K and honest-to-goodness health insurance. I would wear cute clothes to work and not a stupid serving apron with a hamburger on it. I would have something worthwhile to put on my resume. The only really noteworthy thing I had on my resume at that point were my poetry publications, and most people could give less than a shit about those.

I have no idea how any sane human being can romanticize an office job, but I managed to do it. But I always have been one of those "the grass is always greener" types. At the time I didn't think I was wrong - not about this. The company had an absolutely stellar reputation, and I thought it was my ticket to getting into a position I really loved. I was made promises as well, promises I so stupidly fell for.

My first day back in September 2006 was so awful and boring that I wanted to kill myself. Not only did I not have nearly enough work to do, but I was sitting in a hellishly beige office. But I made it through that first day. And then I made it through the first week. And then it became clear to me that this was not what I thought it was going to be. But if I am anything, I'm stubborn. And I try to be true to my word. I said in my interview that I was willing to give a couple of years to the job. I've never wanted to look flighty on my resume. And so I let myself stay stuck.

I got sucked into a completely dysfunctional system, and I had to learn the hard way that office jobs (or at least this one) really do suck balls, that to these people I was nothing more than a body in a chair, and that there is nothing more soul-crushing than being trapped in a beige office for eight hours a day, five days a week.

But I learned. I learned so much from this job. I learned about office politics. I learned that everything is negotiable - if you have the power to negotiate. I learned how to ask for what I wanted and how to accept it gracefully when it didn't happen (because it never did). I learned how to anticipate management's next move so I wasn't completely thrown every time they made that move. In the end, I realized that I had learned to accept my place of employment for what it was: a very flawed system. And then I learned that I could never expect it to be anything more. Because it just wasn't. Isn't. Never will be.

But I think the most important thing that I learned was how to be happy doing a job that I absolutely hated. I took pride in my little rebellions. I used the internet for personal use all the time. I made friends and *gasp* went to their offices to talk with them. I planned my entire wedding. I completed a ton of coursework for my Master's degree. I brought my camera to work and took photos of things in my office. Once I created a massive collage on a huge piece of cardboard. I wrote blog entries and journal entries, wrote poetry and organized my personal files, read books and in general just farted around. I was able to keep going when it was the last thing I wanted to do.

That's not to say that I never did any work. I did. It's just that I never really had enough to do. I found myself bored all the time, and that is a horrible state to be in. And I figured that since I was never reprimanded for my little rebellions, that was management's way of saying they were okay. So I never felt guilty for them. I needed them to survive.

Last summer was completely awful, and I found myself in a state of despair concerning my job. Roy saw that I was drowning and we came up with a plan to get me out of my job and more focused on doing something I actually enjoy. But then I got a wake-up call. And shortly after that, I got pregnant. Once again, I decided to let myself stay stuck.

But I won't lie - my ultimate wish was to not have to return to my job after having the baby.

And well, it looks like that wish has come true. And I am ecstatic, terrified, overjoyed, anxious. I feel everything that there is to feel, even a bit of sadness. Those three years that I gave to my job are now over. I will never get them back. And as much as I resented being stuck in an office all day, I had some good times, some damn fabulous times, actually - because I met some wonderful people that I am so grateful to call my friends. When I broke the news to my supervisor, he was so supportive of my decision that I found myself crying. I didn't realize that quitting my job was such a hard decision.

It's a huge risk we're taking, going down to one income. We could be more financially set. We could do with less debt, that's for sure. I am anticipating some financial hiccups. But I also know that the decision we've made is the right one. With some lifestyle changes, we can and will make it. I cannot see myself ever regretting quitting my job to be with Charlie for his first year (at least).

I don't plan on making a career out of being a stay-at-home mom. I do still have big dreams for myself, not to mention a degree to finish. Now I am even more devoted to doing what I love: writing, photography, helping people. I'll never let these things go. If there's one thing that having a baby has taught me, it's that life is too short to waste your time doing something you hate. I know that sounds overly simplistic, and it really is - but there comes a time when you have to stop saying things like "this is a stepping stone job" and "I'm just so lucky to have a job in this bad economy." At a certain point, these catch phrases become excuses to stay in a miserable situation. (Again, I am oversimplifying.)

I do think, though, that being a mother is enough. I never really got that until I had Charlie. To me, Charlie is my absolute perfect creation. I could write a million poems that rival the genius of The Waste Land. I could take one hundred photos worthy of critical acclaim. And yes, these things would be meaningful, and I would feel incredibly accomplished. But I've realized that there is nothing more important (to me) than my family and raising children who are loving and respectful and responsible.

I finally have a job that I love. Yes, the pay sucks, and the job is hard. But time is definitely not on my side. It's not my friend. I've watched Charlie change from a beautiful newborn blob to an adorable little infant boy in what feels like the blink of an eye. I am absolutely nuts for this kid, and I don't want to miss anything. I want to be there for the milestones, for all the moments, big and small. I know the workforce will be there when I'm ready to re-enter it.

I finally made the Great Escape. This time, the grass really is greener.

September 21, 2009

Survival Mode

Roy is still sick. Charlie is still sleeping like crap. I find myself in a place that is oddly similar to Charlie's newborn days, when I am constantly looking forward to the next small patch of sleep I might be so lucky to get. (Roy has been instructed to maintain a safe distance from Charlie, you see - so I've been doing most of Charlie's care on my own, except when I absolutely need intervention; ie, find myself getting frustrated with Charlie. Yeah, that whole getting frustrated thing - it happens, and when it does, it tends to happen in the middle of the night.)

Two bright spots:

1) We took Roy to the doctor today, and he's got some meds into him, which will hopefully get him functional and back to his old healthy self. My husband never lets being sick get the best of him, but this time is different. I've never seen him this sick. As a matter of fact, I don't think he's ever called in sick for his own illness before.

2) Charlie's Uncle Paul came over today, despite the germ infestation in our house, and watched Charlie for a little while so I could take a nap. And he's coming over tomorrow morning to make up for tonight's lack of sleep as well. Yay, Uncle Paul!

I have pretty much let everything else go while we muck our way through this crappy time. I am sucking down the Airborne with the hopes that I will avoid catching Roy's nasty bug - and of course, we are really hoping that Charlie doesn't get sick. Yeah, that wouldn't be cool.

Anyway, that's what's going on here. Well, I do have a huge, giant, exciting piece of news to share, but that is something that's going to have to wait until I have some more time. The happiness posts are on hold as well.

See you soon!

September 19, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 25: Photographic Reflections + Double Trouble

My friend Cynthia is pregnant with twin girls!

This morning I met her and her husband for a little maternity shoot. It had been a long, long time since I'd done a formal shoot. The last time I did any photography for anyone else was when I was really, really pregnant. Since Charlie's birth I've become a lazy photographer. I've kind of sacrificed quality just for getting the shot of what he's doing in any moment. As a result, I feel pretty rusty at photography - not that I was any kind of expert to begin with. (That's something I'd like to change, though.)

So anyway, Cynthia and Jose had a long, long road to pregnancy, and I know they are both ecstatic to be expecting twin girls. And I am so excited for them!

I'm just sharing one photo for now, because to be honest, I'm not happy with most of them - but I also haven't really gone through them carefully yet. It's a good thing they are friends of mine and will understand if I need to do a do-over session (which I've had to do before). Oftentimes I have so many good ideas and a real vision for what I want the shoot to be, but it's pretty difficult to make the vision into a reality. Know what I mean?

I do like this photo... but let's face it, I don't have the skills that I want to have. Must work on that.

The good news is being out and shooting again makes me super happy. I love being behind the camera even if the finished product isn't perfect. And to me, that's what it's all about - doing what makes you happy, even if it doesn't come out "right."

Hope you're enjoying your weekends. Roy isn't feeling well, but all the same, he let me have a nap when I got home from the shoot this morning. So I'm feeling awake! This is a good thing. It's especially good because in my sleep-deprived fog this morning, I packed both of my cameras and a back-up battery for one of them, but forgot to load the newly charged batteries into the cameras. It's a good thing that I had a back-up battery for my back-up camera - otherwise, the shoot would have been a no-go.

Now if we can just get Roy feeling better, then everything will be great.

September 18, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 24: You know what they say about guys with big feet...

They're pretty freakin' cute.

And that's all I got for today. But have a great weekend, everyone! I'll be back tomorrow with more happiness.

September 17, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 23: The Way He Laughs, This Moment

It's no secret that I am nutso in love with my husband. If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you've probably heard me confess my love thousands of times. It's a little something I like to do.

For us, marriage has always been pretty easy. Sure, we've had our disagreements and irritations and things of that nature, but on the whole, we have always been really damn solid. We love each other truly, madly, deeply, and all those other "ly" words. Our relationship has never felt like work. It's never been like, "damn, I gotta hang out with you?". Being together is just something we've always wanted.

Marriage isn't quite so easy with a baby in the house. Charlie, like all other babies, requires so much time and attention that by the end of the day, both of us are pretty worn out. We don't have a lot left after Charlie's gone to bed. But we still try to keep the love alive amongst all the dirty bottles and burp cloths.

One thing we do is try to have a date night once a month. When we do this, we usually stick with the ol' dinner and a movie, but it is surprisingly rejuvenating. Another thing we've started doing is watching some TV or a movie together after we've put Charlie down for the night. It's not always easy to make it through anything because of Charlie's constant night waking, but still, we are making the effort to just be together, just us, on the couch at night for at least an hour or so. Kind of like the way we were before Charlie was born, only so not the way we were before Charlie was born.

Everything is totally different now. And sometimes I miss our life the way it was. I never regret bringing Charlie into our lives, but I will say that marriage without a kid was easier. However, the things that are most worth it in life usually aren't easy.

Do I sound preachy? I don't know, I guess what happened is that I heard Roy laugh the other night when we were watching Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the the Were-Rabbit, and I was bowled over by the sound of it. I have always loved the way Roy laughs; it was nice to really hear it again. (Not that he hasn't been laughing, but because I've been in such a fog.) It's one of those little things that reminded me why I fell in love with him in the first place.

This morning I thought of the day Charlie was born and everything we went through to bring him into the world. That day was made up of a long series of some of my weakest and most vulnerable moments in the last ten years or so. The one person who stayed by my side through it all was Roy. He is the only reason I made it through that terrible ordeal. He was able to be strong for me when I couldn't be strong for myself. That, my friends, is love.

I am a lucky, lucky woman. I have a man who loves me and our son and our cats and our life. Who is my rock and my best friend. Who makes me want to be a better person. Who laughs and makes me fall in love with him all over again.

My pledge is to remember that long before there was Charlie, there was us. There was him, so unassuming and stoic and strong. There was me, so in love with him, writing this poem feverishly because I knew that I had found the person I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.

This Moment

In the blue shadows
of my room,
I woke to find you
next to me,
breathing evenly,
warm as gold.

I held you
and heard the rain
falling outside.

How fleeting it all is.
The early morning
will disappear with the sun;
the rain will shrink
back into clouds.

What remains is love.
The smoothness of your back,
the sleepy grasp of your hands,
your blue eyes reflecting oblivion.

I lie still, unable to breathe,
afraid to lose it all—
early morning, rain,
this moment,


I love you, behbehs.

September 16, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 22: A Warm Bath Every Night

I've figured out the secret to getting a warm bath every night. It involves me, a slippery baby, and a bathtub full of warm water.

Charlie is about the size of a nine-month old. He's a big boy and needs a place to stretch out when he takes a bath. The little infant tub wasn't cutting it anymore. Plus it just wasn't any fun either.

So bathing together it is. And we love it. Charlie is much more fun when he has a little more mobility, and we've had some good moments in the bathtub. He's more prone to laughing when we're in the big bathtub whereas in his baby bathtub, we could never even get him to crack a smile.

I realize that to some people, bathing with your kid might seem a little weird, but it's actually not weird at all. It's a good way for us to spend some time together at the end of the day before Roy puts Charlie to bed.

Plus, I get a warm bath out of the deal. What's not to like?

Now, if only we could get Charlie to love sleeping as much as he loves bathtime...

September 15, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 21: Crafty Goodness and Fall Fashion

Today's post is a double whammy of happiness. Get ready!

First of all, here's some crafty goodness for you.

Remember my attempts at quilting? Well, I have yet to actually quilt something, but I did sew the entire top of Charlie's quilt and then had it quilted. I got this back quite awhile ago and have used it in Charlie's monthly photo sessions, as some of you have noticed. Anyway, here it is:



Detail of front

I love it! The owner of the quilting shop did such an awesome job putting it together for me. I would have love to have attempted it myself, but yeah. That probably wouldn't have worked out too well.

Also, I have received some very thoughtful crafty gifts for Charlie in the mail this summer. (And I am so behind in blogging this that I'm really embarrassed!) One of the items came from my very own blogger friend Crazy Daisy, who put her creative mind to good use to make this memory plaque for us*:

* I don't know if the correct name for this is "memory plaque," but that's what I call it.

I seriously bawled when I opened the package. It was just such a thoughtful gift and it now resides in a spot of honor on our mantel surrounded by our wedding pictures and my small collection of vintage cameras.

Every time I look at it, I smile. Thank you so much, Crazy Daisy, for caring about me and my family.

Another awesome gift that Charlie received was from his Great Uncle Charles - Charlie is named after him, because he's my absolutely favorite uncle. He bought Charlie a blanket from a craft fair in Utah. Check out the cuteness!

Again, love.

And now, for the second, more fashion-forward part of this post.

It's cooled down a tad here! Which for us means it was in the 80s today. Charlie looked awesome in his baby shades.

But as we prepared to take Charlie out for his evening walk, we realized that he needed a little more than his sunglasses and onesie. So we put him in pants and a jacket, too.

Behold the cuteness that is Charlie in his fall wardrobe:

What's that? You need a closer look?

Every single day, I look at Charlie and think, "This kid cannot possibly get any cuter." And then, presto!

Cutest. Baby. Ever.

September 14, 2009

I must be smoking crack.

Tonight I was rummaging through a folder of photos and found this one of me, which I took in late February.

And then the oddest thought popped in my head.

"Man, I miss being pregnant."

WTF?! Do I actually miss the heartburn, the swelling, the sore back and ribs, the aching feet and hands, the discomfort, the huffing and puffing, the waddling, the huge ass belly, the spotting, the nausea, the insomnia, the pee-sized bladder?

Hellz to the no!

But I do miss how much I ate. That was fun.

I will say this: That girl taking her photo in the bathroom had absolutely no idea what she was in for. No idea. It feels like a million years ago.

30 Days of Happiness, Day 20: A Happy Place

Before I had Charlie, when I used to carry a purse more regularly, I carried around a tattered old envelope that had three words written on the outside:

A Happy Place

Inside that envelope, I put a few things that make me really happy.

A picture of the Golden Gate Bridge that I took back in 2000, to remind me of all the places I want to go,

A picture of my mom as a girl, because I love thinking of what she must have been like before I knew her as "mom",

A note from Roy, to remind me that I'm loved,

Some stamps that I love, to remind me of beauty, but especially this,

One of Roy's business cards, to remind me how important it is to find one's vocation,


A printout of this blog entry, which always serves me with a healthy dose of idealism.

In the hustle and bustle of having a baby, the contents of my purse got emptied and shifted around and it wasn't until recently that I re-discovered my happy place. A nice re-surprise, indeed.

Do you have a happy place? If so, what's in it?

September 13, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 19: Re-Realizations Revisited

It's been one week since I stood in our concrete back yard hanging Charlie's diapers out to dry and re-realized, "Hey, I want something different than this."

My head is crammed full of ideas. I've had so much energy (well, as much as you can have when your baby sleeps like crap), and I've been getting a lot of things done. Roy and I keep talking and making something resembling a plan, and that is exciting. Just a short while ago we were kind of in the space where we figured we'd buy a house here and stay in it for five years, finish having kids, and then move away to a place that suits us better. And I guess that'd be the most convenient thing to do. But I have never wanted to raise kids here. And I've never been able to see myself here for the long haul.

So this past week, we started acting. We took an honest look at our finances and came up with a budget. We decided to take a cue from Dave Ramsey and put aside our emergency fund. Next up, we are going to tackle our debts, smallest to largest.

That's going to take awhile. And our debt is a disheartening situation. It's manageable, but I hate that we owe so much money.

This past week we also came up with a meal plan. We didn't follow it, but I think making it helped us. And after listing a huge amount of books in our Amazon book store, we sold 22 books just last week.

We're still cleaning and purging. I've got a stack of stuff that I'm giving away to different people who I think would appreciate it more than me. And we have a lot of stuff to donate as well.

Lastly, I've decided to make a daily to-do list. I haven't really been doing this since Charlie was born because every day is so unpredictable. But there are things that need to get done that I forget all the time, like taking my supplements and vitamins. I have about 1500 emails in my inbox that need to be sorted and filed or deleted. My computer desktop is full of photos that need to be edited and then filed. All this daily maintenance stuff just isn't getting done. So today I made a list and then printed out five copies to hang on the front door - and these will be the things that need to be taken care of each day. I'm also going to make a weekly to-do list of extra tasks that I can do as I have time.

So as another week comes to a close, I'm feeling really good. I feel like we're moving in the right direction. I'm excited to see what the future holds. I know there's no way I can ever predict what will happen, and so at a certain point, it's kind of silly to make plans. And that's okay. I'm sure whatever happens will be something we can handle.

September 12, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 18: An Afternoon with the Peacocks

Roy, Charlie, and I headed out to the L.A. Arboretum today for some three-month photos of Charlie. Our family photographer Crissy and her husband met us there. Because I wasn't the main photographer of the day, I only took a few photos while we were there.

There were peacocks everywhere! I loved this guy, who was hanging around the patio of the cafe. He ate right out of my hand! So cool.

I also loved this turtle, who started climbing out of the water when we came near it. I think he thought we were going to feed him...

And these three characters were hilarious, sitting on top of each other in the middle of the lake.

I loved this fountain and wish I would have taken more photos of it.

I also love old machinery type stuff, so this was right up my alley...

On the way home, we saw this awesome person with his/her awesome bumper stickers (click to enlarge):

We didn't get to spend nearly enough time wandering around the arboretum, but what little we saw was really beautiful. I can't wait to go back - hopefully with less stuff next time.

It was a really nice day. I am really excited to see how our photos came out. And speaking of photos, Roy and I did our own three-month session with Charlie earlier in the week. Click here to check 'em out - I love most of them.

September 11, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 17: My Own Piece of American Beauty

It's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life...

-American Beauty-

I shot this video the other day as the sun was coming through the blinds in Charlie's room just perfectly. Charlie is always excited by his mobile, but on this particular day, as it swung around and around and made beautiful light patterns on the walls, it rendered me speechless.

There really is so much in this life to be grateful for. Especially when you see rainbows and light when you least expect it.

I think it's particularly important to take stock of what's important on a day like today, the 8th anniversary of 9/11. I have never been to New York, but the events of that day really did change me. It was a wake-up call.

I'm still awake. And always aware that tragedy can strike at any time, but always aware that the little things are so much of what makes life worth living.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

We have a winner!

Thanks for playing, everyone!

September 10, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 16: A Fluffy Butt, Babylegs, and One Hell of a Sleepless Streak

This morning, as Charlie woke up from yet another nap that was entirely too short, I took one look at him and said to myself, "I do not have the energy to be a mother today."

I wish I could report that my son, who previously only woke up once or twice a night, is still doing that. However, no. That is not the case. He's waking up for at least three feedings. And countless other times to be comforted.

Yes, I said countless. Meaning I've lost count. Meaning that every time we get the kid to sleep and put him down, he starts fussing or is wide awake within minutes.

Take last night, for example. After Roy fed him around 4 AM and put him back down to sleep, Charlie just kept fussing and fussing. And fussing. And fussing. Finally, I picked him up and changed his diaper. Sat with him for a long while in the nursery with him over my shoulder, patting his back. It's so easy to get him to fall asleep this way. And he did fall asleep. But the second I put him down, he was fussy.

I looked at the clock and saw it was 6 AM. 6 AM, people! Two hours we had spent trying to get him to go back to sleep. I am not ashamed to admit that I started crying when I saw the clock. Because once it's 6 AM, my hours with Roy at home to help me are limited. And normally, I'm okay with this.

But what's happening with Charlie's shittastic sleep habits is not normal for him. And our little family is kind of in turmoil over this loss of sleep thing.

I have no idea what we're doing wrong, but I feel it must be something. Charlie is waking up as many times as he did when he was a newborn. As a matter of fact, he's exhibiting classic newborn behavior. Eating all the time (at night, anyway), not wanting to be put down, etc. At first I was chalking it up to a growth spurt, but if that's the case, this is one hell of a long growth spurt. All of this is very troubling for us, because hello! We're tired. And we know Charlie is tired. But how to get the kid to sleep, really sleep, is beyond me. We've tried so many things.

Arms swaddled, legs unswaddled.
In the pack and play with the changing pad.
In the pack and play without the changing pad.
After a feeding.
Before a feeding.
In his too-small bouncy chair.
In his new newborn-to-toddler rocker.
Cardboard taped over the windows.
Sunlight blazing in.
In the car seat.
In the swing.

And this list doesn't even include the countless methods we've employed to soothe him to sleep. I'll refrain from listing those.

So far there has been no magical combination. And more often than not, Charlie wakes up unhappy than happy. It used to be a 50/50 split. There's a lot more screaming now. I think I would be a little less concerned if Charlie had always been like this, but he hasn't been. I know he can sleep six hours straight without waking up because he did it for four or five weeks. What the hell is going on?

Bleh, I'm tired. Have I said that already?

But wait! Isn't this supposed to be a happiness post?

Right. About that happiness thing.

I do believe that sleep will be had, dammit! I got a copy of this book recently and burned through over half of it today. Are you wondering how I did that?

Well, I did actually get Charlie to take a decent nap today. And I tried to take one myself, but nothing doing. So I read instead. And then tonight I went to go get my hair done (!!!!!!!!!!), and I read while that was going on. (I'll share hair pics later.) The book is great, and I do believe that we can turn this situation around.

So back to that thought I had (the one at the beginning of this post). The one that so ridiculously assumed that I could take a day off from being a mother. I decided that I had to make the energy to be a mother today. And so that's what I did.

I put Charlie in a ridiculously cute outfit of just a diaper and some Babylegs and snapped some photos.

And it helped, really. Because what about a big ol' cloth-diapered baby butt and some leg warmers wouldn't make anyone smile?

It sure as hell worked wonders for me.

And pssst - don't forget to enter my book giveaway!

September 9, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 15: I Am the Messenger

I love it when I read a book that I find completely satisfying.

I am such a book/lit snob that it's pretty rare that I find a book that makes me go "mmmm, now that was good." But I Am the Messenger does that for me.

The author, Markus Zusak, is an incredible writer. That's not a compliment I pay very often. But he is. I love how he always managed to surprise me with his choice of words in this book.

And I love the story. I love the characters and how they are sketched out just perfectly. We are given just enough information about them to make them come alive.

I was sad when the book ended. I was sad each time I had to put it down. I can't wait to read more of his books.

You should definitely check it out.

Oh, and check out my new book light!

I had a normal one that broke and needed a quick replacement. Roy to the rescue with this head contraption thingie! I like it though. It's perfect for reading under the covers. (Yes, I still read under the covers. I have to, since Charlie is still sleeping in our room.)

And while we're on the subject of books, don't forget to enter my book giveaway! If you don't like our current selection, enter anyway - I still have plenty of merchandise to put up for sale.

Happy 9/9/09, everyone!

September 8, 2009

Three Months

Dear Charlie,

Today you are three months old. You are a big huge tank of a baby with a sweet-smelling head and a pterodactyl's cry. You scrunch up your face when you're mad and shove your fist into your mouth when you're not. Sometimes you miss your mouth and hit yourself in the eye instead. But then you try and act all slick and slowly run your hand down your face until your fingers find your mouth. It has got to be one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

There were big, big changes for you this month. You started cooing and squealing. You started drooling. You started touching your legs, and soon I know you will find your feet. You started examining your hands. You started smiling at yourself in the mirror. You started pushing on the surface underneath you with your leg, and soon I know you will turn yourself over. The other day I poked you in the stomach and you giggled. You haven't done it since, but your dad was there and he heard it, too. Your first laugh.

You love sucking on blankets. Sometimes I find you with your face buried in a blanket and your mouth wide open. You love looking at the world from high up. That means whoever holds you better be ready to walk, walk, walk. You love sitting on my tummy and staring at me. You love sitting in my lap. You love practicing standing on my legs. You love having conversations with me. You love smiling at me. You love me. I can feel it now.

It's hard to believe that it's been three months since you entered into this world. You were so tiny! But what a set of lungs you had on you. I never told you this before, but the lactation consultant at the hospital called you "the screamer." You can still scream with a fiery passion. I love that about you. You always had an attitude, even before you were born. You've turned out to be exactly the baby I thought you would be, but what I never could have guessed is how much I love you, Charlie. I love you with a depth and intensity that I didn't think was possible. I look at my life before you and I'm not sure how I made it so long without you. I look at pictures of myself as a baby and I am no longer searching for clues to myself. I'm searching for you.

Because Charlie, when you arrived, I knew I had finally arrived as well. I am alive and present and awake in my life and I know myself in ways I didn't before. I have you to thank for making me a better and richer person. My only hope is that I can give you a shred of what you've already given me.

I love you, kid.