Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Social media and motherhood

This morning, I took my kids to a park. Sal calls it "mama's park" (there's also one he refers to as dad's park). 

Let me tell you the main reason why I love "my" park. 

Nobody knows about it. 

That's right. Sometimes I  take my kids to a park where nobody else goes. So much for socialization, right? 

Why do I do this?

Because sometimes I want my kids to be free to play and climb and fall without fear of persecution from judgey mcjudgersons. Sometimes I just want to enjoy watching my kids run amok without having to carry on polite conversations with other parents about how full my hands are, or better yet, try to maintain a neutral stance on a controversial parenting topic like immunizations or sleep training. 

Don't get me wrong, we socialize. I do like other moms. We totally hit the popular parks a couple times a week-but every so often, I just don't want to talk to anyone or have anyone judge my family from afar. I parent to the best of my abilities and I'm confident in most of my decisions. 

But here's the thing... Social media takes judgement to a whole new level.  Heaven forbid someone not agree with something my kid (or myself) is doing and post it on social media for all to see.

I'm part of a local Facebook group comprised of moms in our area. The group started out small, and now numbers over 6,000 members. I love to scroll through posts during nap time. Most moms post questions, items for sale, and  share funny stories of parenthood....Then you've got the know it alls, with harsh words and argument seeking comments. They write posts like "can you believe this mother did....?!" and all of the judgements come flooding in.  I avoid engaging in those posts by scrolling past, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried that one day I'll be reading one of those "can you believe this mother at park xyz does / did this?!" along with a picture of me in some unflattering contortion trying to fight one of my kids into a car seat or (gasp!) feeding them fruit snacks with food dye in them. 

 I know I'm not alone. A few of my friends and I have discussed our concerns of judgement in something so small as allowing our kids to ride bikes to a friend's house when they are of a mature enough age. Riding bikes and exercising freedom and trust is a right of passage. However, what if someone disagrees with our desire to have somewhat free range kids and calls child protective services or the police? While I'm certain we wouldn't get in trouble by either entity, it's not anything I ever want my kids to experience. You know?

I'm rambling a bit here. But I guess what I'm getting at is that while social media could be a great outlet for support, it's often not. It's people feeling mighty powerful behind their keyboard and in turn bullying/ shaming another mother who is trying her best. 

I wonder what it was like to be a mother before social media. I imagine women had a select group of confidants that they bounced questions off of, and deferred all other questions to their pediatricians. Maybe people minded their own business more often and spent more time worrying about their own kids and less time worrying about others. 

I wonder what it will be like when my kids are old enough to be parents themselves? What kind of pressures will they have that we do not have? 

I can only imagine. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


We just returned from a week at my dad's new place. If you haven't guessed from the post title, we were out in the boondocks.

It felt so good to unplug for a week and watch my family enjoy all things country. We even celebrated my sister's birthday since she joined us on the trip (she may never accept another invite to drive with us after the scream fest that was our drive home).  

As with anytime we visit them, papa Jet & meme were great hosts. Nick got to shoot, fish and drink beer with my dad, while Meme and auntie Steph showered my kids with attention and love.  

The kids had fun just being kids-which meant baths that turned the water gray at night. They played hard. Every inch of their body was covered with dirt stuck on dirt stuck on dirt. Good times were definitely had. 

Carla fell in love with the "horse" that my dad uses for target practice and was even more blown away when she had the opportunity to ride Meme's real live horse, Maggie. 

Sal also rode Maggie-- but he really loved picking tomatoes, quad rides and learning how to excavate...


...but the highlight for him was his s'more making dream coming to fruition...he'd been talking about making s'mores for a few weeks, and was determined he was going to make them when he visited his papa Jet...My dad made roasting forks (complete with antler handles!) for Carla and Sal to roast with and he was in heaven. Marshmallow waaaaaasted.

My favorite part of the trip was hanging out with my family. I enjoyed kicking back when the kids slept and waking up to the most beautiful sunrises. Nick and I cut away for an afternoon and got lunch together in a nearby town. On our way home we made an impromptu stop at a casino to play blackjack amongst the Noon on a Monday crowd. Good times.

But now we are back, and we're all fighting off colds. Nobody is sleeping well, and laundry is still piled up waiting to be folded.

 Back to reality.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gino is 5 months

This smiley little guy just turned five months old.

At five months, G is now mobile by way of rolling and stink bug scooting. He gets frustrated (and stuck) easily and often, but that's par for the course in this whole becoming independent gig.

Per pediatrician's advice, Gino started on a few solids this past month, and seems to like all three. He started with avocado, then zucchini and most recently, banana. Unfortunately, he isn't past the dairy sensitivities, as I found out after I indulged on a candy bar last weekend and  his poor little face broke out just 24 hours later. This kid is keeping me honest with what I eat! 

I've got a stockpile of pumped milk in the freezer for a baby that has, until now, been anti bottle. This means that I am no more than 2-3 hours away from him at any time. I love my kids, but sometimes a mama just wants a break! Sal has shown interest in feeding Gino lately, so I let him try with an ounce of pumped milk. It's been a learning curve, but Gino will take it from him. I thought that maybe he's just ready for a bottle now, so I tried on my own, and wouldn't you know--he refused the whole thing. 


Gino responds well to his older siblings and our new kitty, Earl. Both Gino and the new kitty love his jungle gym, and I play referee all morning trying to keep the cat (and Carla) from playing with the gym when G is under it. Carla has gotten much softer with Gino, and her favorite thing is giving him raspberries on his belly. 

Sleep is still nothing to complain about. He naps from about 8:30-10 , 1-3 and then through the night from 7:30-7:00. He still wakes occassionally around 4:30a, but he sleeps through more often than not. 

I love this little guy so much! Bring on month six!

Friday, August 28, 2015

A visit with Barb

Last Sunday, the kids and I kicked off our week alone (NZ was in China again), with a little drive to Culver City to see one of my favorite expat friends. Barb was in town from Michigan visiting her brother who was performing there. 

One of our Chinese adventures with Barb-bus riding!

We spent the morning swimming and splashing and catching up like old friends do. She's the first friend from China that I've reunited with back in the states, and although it was a little weird not being surrounded by the staring eyes of the curious Chinese, it was oh so nice to be back in America together while we laughed at the joy that shopping at target provides us. 

The kids had a blast, and all fell asleep on the drive home, making for a nice quiet afternoon. 

A huge thank you to Barb and her parents for entertaining my kids so we could visit! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015


All of a sudden these two give me glimpses of hope that they may someday be each other's best friend. 

Don't get me wrong, most days I find myself refereeing drop kicks, vampire bites and wwe smack downs over the same toy...but every so often, they come together and it's beautiful. 

Here are a few savored moments as of late. 

                Two little monkeys

   Feeding Carla tomatoes at grama's 

     Waiting turns for snow cone slurps

   Holding hands on the way to the beach

Painting together...and keeping the paint off each other. 

Although it's a lot of work having so many little ones so close in age, I wouldn't change it for the world. They will always have each other, come rain or shine. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Stitch fix: first delivery

So, my style needs some serious revamping. Between an overseas move in which we lived out of two drawers and a shared closet each, to three years of revolving maternity clothes, my wardrobe--or what's left of it, is outdated. 

I've attempted quick target and old navy naptime getaways to try and find myself some new duds, but either end up empty handed or buying something that isn't really what I had in mind, but fits so so. 

Enter stitch fix. 

A few friends have had success with stitch fix. It's an online business that provides a stylist and automatic shipments of five items at scheduled delivery dates. I decided it was worth the $20 "styling fee" and filled out a lengthy questionnaire. I then went to my Pinterest board and pinned photos of outfits/styles that spoke to me on my "playing dress up" board. My stylist will take a look and select from their warehouse items that fit the bill. 

I was nervous at first because a) just like rhythm, I have NO style. And b) I'm 4 months post baby-and although I'm at my pre Carla weight again, I'm squishy and a bit more self conscious than I used to be. I am not sure of my sizes anymore., so I guesstimated and made a note to my stylist that I didn't want my muffin top showing and in addition, nursing friendly tops would be a bonus. 

My fix arrived last night.

Once the kids were in bed I played dress up and had NZ act as my photographer. We don't have a good full length mirror so a photograph of me wearing my new fix was the next best option. 

Right off the bat, 4 out of 5 items got me grinning. I tried on the fifth item- a pair of Kut from the kloth olive green shorts-- for shits and giggles, and they fit like a glove--but I knew I'd never wear them. 

There were two flowy loose tops. I loved both at first sight. They're airy and great for nursing. 

The first one was a petite cut, and I liked that it was loose, but not too loose. 


The second one, a collective concepts Nathaniel top, was a super cute v neck with high low hem, but was just too boxy for my liking. 

Unfortunately, it had to be a return, even though I contemplated taking it in on my own. I just think it was too big.

I received a cute necklace, which I would've kept, however, Gino is at the age he is grabbing everything and it just seemed to delicate to handle the grasp of a hungry four month old. I had a feeling it would die a painful death within hours. 

It too went in my return bag. 

My last and final piece is my hands down FAVORITE. A petite length maxi skirt in a fun black and white print. It's the first maxi I didn't have to hike up under my boobs or hem to fit. It hangs just right and I'm in love. 

So, all in all, my stylist did good. I liked everything but the shorts. I only kept two, because I'm really wanting to stock my closet with things that fit just right-not just making do with a so so fit. I've done it for years and there's something to be said for clothes that fit your body right. They make you feel so much better and you actually wear them. 

I'm sold on stitch fix. I can try them on in my own home, with other pieces of clothes that I already own. I don't feel rushed at all, and feel like having someone else pick out clothes for me to try on got me out of my frumpy tank tops and t-shirts box. 

My next shipment is next month. I've requested some jeans to wear with sandals. Can't wait to see what my stylist sends. 

If you're interested in giving it a try, ask me for my promo code. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cascarones and old friends

I grew up in Santa Barbara. It's a beachside town with deep Spanish roots. 

Every August, Santa Barbara celebrates its heritage with Old Spanish days. It's a week long celebration full of mercados, parades and cervezas & cascarones. 

This year, the kids and I met up with my longtime friend, Sara and her children. Once upon a time, Sara and I spent 25-30 hours a week inhaling chalk dust and picking leotard wedgies as gymnastics teammates. We haven't seen one another in almost 22 years, but thanks to social media, have stayed in touch through babies and moves. We both recently moved back to Southern CA and made a date to hit up the parade together. 

It was as though no years had passed. Picked up right where we left off and spent the afternoon catching up. 

We played at Kids World park for an hour or so and then headed to the parade route to stake our claim on a street corner. 

It was on this corner that my kids got introduced to a fiesta tradition. Breaking cascarones on fellow partier's heads and shouting "¡viva la fiesta!"

 When the egg cracks, colorful confetti flutters out and covers everything around it. I've always loved that tradition and was excited for my kids to get a chance to partake this year. 

The parade was full of flower girls, caballeros and horses. There were dancers and marching bands and all that jazz. Although we had to leave part way through --- "mooooom, I need to use a bafroom. NOW!" I think my kids caught the bug that will keep us going back year after year. On our way out, Sal insisted we buy more cascarones so he could share with his aunt Stephanie. 

After a quick lunch, we headed to my sister's office where we unloaded Sal and his cascarones for the night. He had his first sleepover at her house and continued fiesta-ing with pizza, movies, popcorn and candy til he couldn't take it anymore. 

He definitely fiesta' like there's no maƱana. 

Til next year.