Tuesday, May 27, 2014

For Shawna

My friend Shawna writes a beautiful blog about being a mom to two special needs kiddos. Many of her entries are difficult to read (my heart hurts for her!), but she also posts funny things. She inspired me to post this entry in solidarity with her.

Girl, you are not alone. I have documented my hair trauma repeatedly, but I'll put it here for kicks. :)

The worst is air-dried only. I can't put it here, but you can see it on my Instagram (if we're friends).

Left: just blow-dried. Right: Blow-dried and straightened.

It's such a chore, I Instagram myself doing it.

I miss my pregnancy hair, which was just glorious.

If I want gorgeous, Christy Neal-type of hair, it takes me AN HOUR AND A HALF (literally. Nick watched the kid so I could do this one):

As it stands, I spend most of my days like this (notice the mini-hair halo?):

Guess the only thing I'm missing are the dangly earrings!!

Love you, Shawna!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Los Angeles Zoo

One of the best things I did the summer after Avonlea was born was to get a membership to the Los Angeles Zoo. While not as vast or impressive as other zoos I have frequented, it is also a very reasonable way to spend an afternoon, both in cost and in space. Adult tickets are $18, and children 2-12 years old are $13. Compare this to the San Diego Zoo (at $46 a ticket), and you're getting a deal!

I found a deal for Family Passes for a discounted price, and we have definitely gotten our money's worth for it. With a family pass, you get two adults admission, and kids 2 and under are free, so I often bring another mom from my mom group. It's also a great workout, as the zoo is located on part of the land in Griffith Park, which has no shortage of hilly areas.

The great thing about having a pass is that I can go on any regular day, not just on the weekends where it is crazy crowded. Avonlea loves to be outside, and the Zoo is friendly to outside food and drink, so we'll often pack a lunch and stay for the afternoon. The pathways are great, too, because most of them are well-shaded by the myriads of trees.

The first time we went, Avonlea was barely 3 months old. We took Dad and Jan, and hung out for a few hours.  It was the first time I fed Avonlea out in public, which was a big deal for me. :) She took a nap in the baby carrier most of the time.

We have been several times since then, and each time, it is more and more fun to watch Avonlea recognize and pay more attention to the animals there. It's also fun to discover more and more areas of the Zoo each time we go.

This past time we went, Avonlea loved watching the elephant!  It was really cute.

Monday, March 17, 2014

35 Things I Did Before Turning 35

A lot of people make lists of what they would like to do before they turn 30. Well, today, I am turning 35.  Instead of making a list of what I would like to do, I thought it would be more interesting to write about what I have already done.

I didn't just want to make a list of stuff that has happened to me, but of things that I made a conscious choice to do. Because I feel like making an innocuous list of what you'd like to do is just that: an innocuous list. My list of things has been a series of choices, each one leading to something awesome. A lot of things were extremely scary or out of my comfort zone, but I am extremely proud of all of them.

Without further ado,

35 Things I Did Before Turning 35!

1.  Lived in another country for an extended period of time.  Do this. It expands your world and makes you appreciate home.

2. Moved away from my childhood home.  Not an easy one, but another thing I highly recommend. It makes you stronger.

3. Drove across the United States.

4. Went to a midnight movie premiere in costume.

5. Went to a midnight book premiere in costume.

6. Dated a good boy whose heart I broke. Probably not good for him, but good for me.

7. Dated a bad boy who broke my heart. Not good for me at the time, but extremely good in the long run.

8. Married an amazing man who keeps my heart safe.

9. Struggled to conceive.

10. Started and ended a failed business of my own. The failure was difficult, but was so important to teach me what I was capable of, and also what my limitations were.

11. Started and maintained a thriving business of my own. Without the failure of the first, the second business would not have been possible.

12. Went skydiving.

13. Went snorkeling. This was a huge accomplishment, as I am frightened of the ocean.

14. Discovered my own chili recipe.

15. Learned to play an instrument.

16. Sang professionally for several summers.

17. Performed twice for a sold-out stadium.

18. Camped out on the Great Wall of China.

19. Spent 10 amazing summers at camp.

20. Wrote and performed a one-woman play.

21. Stood in line for hours to meet my favorite celebrity.

22. Ran a marathon.

23. Was seen twice on a nationally televised TV show.

24. Visited the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza.

25. Climbed out to a precipitous point at the Grand Canyon.

26. Hiked up Mount Sinai and watched the sun rise.

27. Wrote and recorded an original song.

28. Gave birth to a baby.

29. Got thisclose to being drunk, but not enough to make bad choices, and didn't wake up with a hangover.

30. Took a girl's trip to Vegas and danced the night away.

31. Slept in a hut in the jungle, woke up the next morning with a 4-inch spider in the bathroom (not a good moment).

32. Bought my dream car with my own money that I earned.

33. Sailed on the Sea of Galilee.

34. Transferred schools going into high school. Best. Decision. Ever.

35.  Have had my hair cut and colored in every configuration imaginable. This was a lesson learned from my mom. She would always say, "It's just hair. Be glad you have some." Coming from a woman who spent most of the last 20 years of her life without any, it was great advice.  I had fun going through old pics to see some of my former styles. I couldn't find any pics of my red hair, but you get the gist.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Photo An Hour

Inspired by Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point, I took a photo every hour of my day yesterday. It was a different way to document my day.  I only used my phone camera, so the picture quality is terrible. Maybe another day I will use my "real" camera.

8 AM
Avonlea had been awake for about 30 minutes by this point, but I love our morning snuggles. Well, it's more like morning giggles and tackles, as she loves pounding her little hands on my face and squealing like a little piglet. She laid down here next to me and stayed there for a little while--because we were doing selfies.

9 AM
Breakfast time. My enduring quest to find something Avonlea will eat continues. Today, I plopped her on the counter so I could pull something out of the refrigerator, and she entertained herself with the contents of this canister for about 10 minutes.  (no, she didn't eat anything...again)

10 AM
Almost Avonlea's nap time, but time for a little bit of play before going down. She loves pulling herself up onto everything. It won't be long before she walks.

11 AM
My hard work last night to put the dishes away has resulted in a rare mid-morning movie time. Today, it is "Beautiful Creatures".

12 PM
Avonlea still sleeps, so I get to continue my movie. The temperature is dropping, so I added the blanket for snuggles. Gus and Waldo catch a rare, uninterrupted-by-crawling-baby-nap.

1 PM
The Nugget is awake, so we use the time to head to one of our favorite places, the library!

2 PM
Finally having some lunch for myself. Not the healthiest, but we are at the end of the month, so our grocery budget was empty. Scrounging for whatever we had around.

3 PM
Follow-up appointment for Avonlea's double ear infection. Thankfully, the few short days she was on antibiotics cleared up whatever bugs were present--before we figured out she was allergic to the medicine.

4 PM
Home and down for a "nap", but I go in her room to find this. Yep, she is firmly down to one nap a day. *sigh*

5 PM
The "witching hour". Avonlea is done with all of her toys, the dogs are going stir-crazy, and I have no idea what to make for dinner.

6 PM
Dinner for Avonlea while I make our dinner. Pasta with a little bit of cheese, steamed carrots, pepperoni, and a couple of goldfish--she tastes all but eats none (I've documented her food problems on my other blog). Gus sticks around for the little bits that get sent his way.

7 PM
Avonlea is in bed, so I get to enjoy my dinner. Waldo sits close by in case he gets any little tastes (he doesn't).

8 PM
A little photo editing while I catch up on "The Voice". It's amazing how much TV you end up missing--I've stopped watching so many things because I know I won't catch up.

9 PM
I did the dishes as I made dinner, so no real housework to get done tonight--I've been on my computer and watching TV for the last couple of hours.

10 PM
Falling asleep while reading a couple of chapters of Game of Thrones. Another day in the books, and headed to bed!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Baby Mamas

One of the hardest things about moving across the country was leaving friends. Nick and I had a pretty amazing group of people that we were doing life with, watching them marry and have kids. And even though we didn't have kids ourselves, we knew that one day we would, and having a community was really important.

It took a while after we moved here to really make friends. We finally had to accept that it wasn't going to happen without effort. This isn't a bad thing--we just weren't used to going into a situation (like college, or a hometown) where friends were kind of built-in. We were going to have to work a little bit more at it.

Thankfully, God provided some amazing friends for us when we stepped out and got involved in the church choir at Christmastime.

The only problem, though, after we got pregnant, was that none of those friends had kids around Avonlea's age. And while I adore those friends, and are so thankful for how they poured into my life (and continue to do so), I knew that I wanted a little community around Avonlea's age, as well.

Thank God for Stacey. She and I taught the 3-5th Grade Sunday School class together, and became good friends. She got pregnant 5 months after I did, and she introduced me to Emily, who wanted to start a mom group. Emily's daughter Ava is 4 months older than Avonlea, and is now pregnant with a son. In the group, she invited Naphtali, who's son Joshua is the same age as Ava, and is now pregnant with baby #2; Megan, who's twin boys Levi and Noah are 3 months older than Avonlea; Beth, who's son Fletcher is now 15 months, and who had sweet Clark (at 33 weeks) 2 weeks ago; Joanie, who's son Ryker is a year older than Avonlea; Stacey, who's son Wyatt was born 4.5 months after Avonlea; and finally Dianna, who was pregnant when our group started, but just had Evie 6 weeks ago.

I am so thankful for these ladies. The first time I attended after having Avonlea was around 4 weeks, and I just sat and absorbed their energy.  All of us have struggled, all of us have celebrated, and we just encourage each other and lift each other up.  We started out thinking that we would do a book study, but with most of our kids under the age of one, we ended up scrapping the book study and just committing to pray for each other instead.  I look forward to our weekly meetings every Tuesday.

Here are a few pictures from our hangouts that I have taken.

One of our early gatherings:

This is the last time we met before Joanie and Ryker moved to Seattle:

We also go to activities around the area. Here, we are at the Glendale Americana, listening to a music group for kids:

Usually we rotate houses and just have a big play time for the kids:

This pic is from Ava's 1st birthday party. Evie and Clark hadn't arrived quite yet, but I love that we're all in the pic together!

Here's Evie!

So thankful that I get to do life with these amazing women. God has truly blessed us.