Monday, December 29, 2014

Here we go...

Nick spent the better part of last Saturday doing some demo on our house. 

I'm thrilled to see the old ceramic floor tiles and the accompanying pink grout gone for good. I'm not sure pink grout was ever "in style", but for whatever reason the original owners sure thought it was worth investing in. For now we will live with concrete floors in the dining/kitchen until our new kitchen is in. 

I'm cool with that. 


Also gone is the divider wall between our dining room and living room. It already looks bigger and brighter inside. I love it, and look forward to a few months down the road when everything pulls together and the house we've worked hard for finally reflects our vision of a home. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Carla is 11 months old

Ahhh, late again to blog about Carla's 11th month with us. 

Better late than never....especially since these moments are fleeting and I don't want to forget them.

How on earth she is almost a year old is beyond me. 


At 11 months, Carla is a professional at free standing. She can do the Chinese squat, pop up to a stand, and go back down to squat like a pro. She also climbs anything, and EVERYTHING. Her consecutive step count is up to four, but it's not happening often enough to make her an "official" walker quite yet. 

Give her a week. Girlfriend is determined. 


She's still a smiling happy baby, often flirting her way through the checkout line at grocery stores. She waves at people, throws arms up with a squeal of excitement and grins ear to ear when someone stops to give her attention. She met Santa this month and was a good sport.

She recently begun drinking cow's milk ( I ran out of formula one morning and said, "screw it, she's almost a year") and so far she's done well. She still has formula for 2/3 of her daily bottles, but I think we are in the clear as far as lactose allergies go. Unbeknownst to me, she also had her first strawberries courtesy of big brother today, and again--looks like we are in the clear. I'm crossing my fingers we can avoid food allergies in this family, because they are no joke for those who do suffer from them. 

One of my favorite things she has started doing is chatting. She says "mama" & "dada" and tries to imitate us on words like, "Nonno" (her grandpa's name) , "dog", "woof", "cat". She also says "yeah" and "howda" which reminds me of the Chinese word "hao" which is the equivalent of "good" or "uh huh" in our language. 


The only drawback to month eleven has been some sleep regression overnight. Naps are stellar. Two hours in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. Bedtime is at 7:00, and she often lays awake chatting (or shrieking) with Sal until well after 8:30. She also wakes once or twice in the middle of the night, but doesn't require us to get her back to sleep. She just lays in her crib fussing a little (and waking her big brother who tells her "go to sweep Cah, the sun is not up"). I'm not sure if she is getting teeth, growing, or just reaching so many milestones at once that she is having trouble staying asleep, but as with anything, this too shall pass. 

Or at least that's what this mama with pregnancy induced insomnia tells myself. 

One more month til she's a whole year old, and three more months til she is a BIG sister. 

Can't wait to celebrate her first birthday with family this year. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rainy day play date

One of my favorite things about being back in California is being able to exercise my crafty side again. I found a few crafty outlets while in China, but nothing in comparison to what's available here. I guess since so many people struggle to survive day to day life there, spending money on craft supplies isn't on the top of their list for the culture as a whole. Granted, there are some very very rich Chinese, but I'm guessing they just pay decoration companies to come decorate for holidays and such.

Anyways, I'm loving having my fabric store back, as well as Michaels and even a Hobby Lobby now!

Sal and I invited our friends Makayla and Jenna over for a rainy day play date this morning...and even though the rain ended, we enjoyed an indoor activity of decorating icecream cone Christmas trees. 

We made an early morning trip to CVS (Sal thinks that's where all candy comes from) to buy candy and ice cream cones, and somehow also managed to leave the store with a balloon in tow. Lucky kid.

We bought smarties

Jelly beans and fruit loops

m&m's and marshmallows

And I made green buttercream frosting to cover the cones...

I figured I'd put out some healthier snacks for the kids to eat while decorating (bwahaha, yeah right!)....Popcorn snow, carrot noses and olive button eyes. 

Sal impatiently waited for his play date to show up...and was so excited when she arrived!
The two of them did a great job decorating their cones even though we mamas did the icing part of the cones. 

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas 'round here. 

Friday, December 12, 2014


I still have to remind myself that we are here to stay. For the first few weeks that NZ was back, it felt even more like a visit because he had time off to spend with us before getting back into the daily grind. Now that he's back to work, life is feeling more and more like normal and I've been doing my best to treat the kids to some holiday festivities that we weren't privy to overseas.

At almost three years old, I decided that Sal might just be old enough for the Elf on the Shelf that my grandmother got him. We read the book, named the elf "Mahbra" (I think he was going for Barbara, but even as I grilled him on the name before writing it, he stuck with "Mahbra")..

Mahbra it is.

Anyways, we discussed why Mahbra was here, and that Mahbra reports to Santa every night. Santa will remember who has been behaving, and who hasn't based on what Mahbra and his friends tell Santa. Those who behave usually get really cool Christmas presents, while those who don't behave sometimes don't get anything. 

Well, it took a grand total of twenty minutes before I used "Mahbra is watching. Mahbra will tell Santa that you just kicked Carla. You don't want Santa to hear you've been misbehaving, do you?" And what followed was a very vocal and dramatic meltdown......I let him have his moment and then tried some redirection. 

"Hey Bud, let's go back downstairs and have a snack."

But Sal wasn't budging. He started sobbing again. When asked why, he said he didn't want Mahbra to see him. He would not go in the same room I had Mahbra hanging out in. He didn't like Mahbra and he didn't like Santa and he didn't want any presents. He just wanted Mahbra to go away.

Mom fail.

Scarred my child for life. 

Had to redeem myself the next morning, so Mahbra showed up with a pair of Santa socks for Sal.

Thank goodness Sal was receptive and told me Mahbra could stay and he did, in fact, like Santa. 

Dodged that bullet.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

23 weeks pregnant

Weight gain: 14 lbs since the start. 7 of those in the last four weeks. Time to lay off the "I just moved back to America so I'm gonna eat everything I've missed" mentality. 

Maternity clothes? Yes. I love leggings. 

Stretch marks? None. 

Sleep: Mid pregnancy insomnia has hit. Add to that the fact that we've transitioned both kids into a shared bedroom, we've had some midnight waking from the littlest as of late. 

Best moment this week: Had a good visit with the OB (other than getting reprimanded for gaining too much) and was able to hear his heartbeat which always puts my mind and heart at ease. 

Miss anything?: My pre-babies body and workout ethic (;

Movement: Yes. But still sporadic. I wish I felt more. 

Food cravings: bean and cheese burritos and fruit loops cereal. 

Anything making you queasy or sick: no

Gender: Boy

Happy or Moody?: Moody. I'm nearing the same time in this pregnancy in which I lost Denise. 

Looking forward to: Christmas with my kids & family. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sharing with my "somedays"

When I went away to college, my mom boxed up a bunch of my childhood items. Among that box, was a quiet book that she made me when I was about 3 years old. It's dated 1980. When I got married, she sent the box with me. I've held onto it through numerous moves, and saved it for my "someday" kids.

Today was the day that I pulled out the quiet book for my "somedays". The three of us played quietly together for the better part of a half hour, which says a lot for the attention span of a two year old tornado. Once Carla lost interest in fighting Sal to touch it, I left him be to play with it alone.

I admit. I got misty eyed as I watched and listened to him play with it.

I'm not usually a person that saves things or keeps things for sentimental value. I let go of stuff pretty easy. This quiet book though--it's one of the few material items that mean the world to me (my knitted Christmas stocking being my most treasured). 

Seeing the kids that I saved it for, finally playing with it?....


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 has to go down as one of the most beautiful days I can remember in late November. We started our morning with a family car ride in search of swell, eating donuts and wearing pjs. 

                                   Sal really likes donuts with "sfarkles"

There was no swell to speak of, so we left the beach and headed back to Nonno's to get ready for a day trip to Santa Barbara for thanksgiving dinner.

This year, my uncle and his wife came down from Oregon and got to meet Carla for the first time.

                               Great-grandma Dottie & great Uncle Greg

We had a mix match of family attending, which was nice because we were able to see people from both sides of my family all in one place. Being a child of divorce makes holidays and visiting everyone a marathon, so I am extra Thankful that my family members come together and put the past aside when possible. 

The best part of this Thanksgiving (aside from the BBQ'd turkey and beautiful weather), was having this guy back home in time to celebrate with us. 

                                                   Zentil, party of five

It's crazy to think that next year, one of us will be holding another kid. I look at our family photos from this past year and it's still surreal to even have two living kids in our photos. The thought and reality of adding one more in the next few months both excites and terrifies me. Never in a million years did I think that our journey would lead us here....

I'm just thankful we never gave up hope.

Sharing rooms

We finally did it.

We moved the kids into the same room.

Since our return to the states, Carla has been sharing a room with us (me) while we waded through jetlag and sickness. Once NZ joined us last week, we kept saying to one another..."We NEED to move her into Sal's room". It's been the plan all along, but I just kept putting it off until last night. 

Last night was the night. The crib and changing table found a new home in the corner of Sal's room. I had done some talking about sharing rooms with him prior to the merge, but wasn't sure he fully understood that SHE would be sleeping in HIS room. We made such a big deal about the new room he'd have at nonno's house before we moved back to CA that I was afraid that I may have jinxed a peaceful sharing of the room. 

Such was not the case. 

He welcomed her with enthusiasm. And lots and lots of chatter. 

Until 10:00pm to be exact.

NZ and I went to bed around 10:00 and we listened through our monitor as he chatted away. It was a one sided conversation, as there wasn't a peep from Carla, but the boy went on and on and on until he finally ran out of words. Mind you, bedtime was 7:00 sharp. 

We made it through night one without anyone waking, which was much better than I had anticipated. My morning started out at about 6:30 hearing the sweetest words on the monitor..

"Oh dere you are Caryita. Are you awake?" 

Followed of course by, "Mama....mahhh-mahhh... maaaaaaaaaahma. We awake!" 

And on that note, my Saturday started.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Carla is 10 months old

I'm over a week late posting--for good reason--NZ finally joined us in California after six long weeks away!  We've spent the last week getting him repatriated and I'm just now sitting down to write about our little TEN month old! 

At ten months old, Carla weighs in at 18lbs...and I've already forgotten her height, but she's pretty much right at in the 50th percentile on height and weight. If her food consumption as of late is any indication, she's due for a growth spurt anytime now. She often clears her dinner plate and eats what her big brother has refused (which is usually his entire dinner). New favorite foods have been steak, raspberries, blueberries and cheese. She's jacked Sal's morning sippy cup of whole milk a few times and had no reaction to the lactose, so hopefully we're in the clear of any milk allergies. 

My favorite thing about Carla turning ten months old?


She squats like an old Chinese lady in the middle of the room and then pops right up to a stand with no hands! I'm guessing she stands unassisted for at least 15-20 seconds before plopping back down. We might just have a few steps by eleven months. 


And because of that...the baby gates are up. Well, that and the fact she can climb stairs but has no idea how to get down without trust falling. Let's just say she started to trust fall, and my pregnant butt went to grab her...but lost my step and came tumbling down the stairs almost taking her down with me. That was the end of the "I'll just teach her how to use stairs instead of buying baby gates." 


In her repertoire of over the top cuteness, she has the "bye bye" wave down, makes smooching noises before kisses, and throws her hands up to say "all done". Her big brother thinks he is a dog sometimes, and she giggles and tries to say "woof woof", but it comes as "wuh". Hey, it's a start. 


Carla met one of her great grandma's this month. She's a lucky girl to have two great grandmas to love on her. I'm really thankful that we are living close enough for regular visits. We spent an entire Thursday visiting with both of them up in Santa Barbara. My sister and I made them play assistant for our amateur attempt at a photo shoot for Christmas cards. I'm sure we wore both great grandmas out with our three ring circus. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Is it bedtime yet?

Well, we've finally slowed down.

Last week was pure chaos, with three Doctor appointments, playgroup and school taking up a good portion of each day. I'm not used to being so busy, but it really does feel great to accomplish things. For the last couple of years, I spent more hours on my couch than I probably have in my whole life. Okay, exaggeration--but yeah, my sofa in Wuxi probably has a dent in it from the hours I logged just sitting at home with the kids. I did get out almost every day, but it was different. It was without purpose.

Now that we are stateside and back in my element, I'm able to do things that matter. I'm able to mail off my own package at the post office, schedule, drive to, and complete a doctor's appointment, get groceries, sort out utility's endless. I know it's all normal everyday life, but for me, it's new again. I actually feel like I have more worth. I feel smart again. Being illiterate for a couple of years is quite humbling. 

That being said, my kids, who have not been used to the faster paced life we live in the states--might be feeling it. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself as my two and a half year morphs into his evil alter ego come 4:30 each evening. For two and a half hours, I play referee as he tries to headlock his little sister and steamroll her. If she is playing quietly by herself, he has to intervene. It's maddening. There have been lots of NO's from his mouth and quite a few screaming to the point of choking tantrums over something as simple as me telling him to stop opening and closing the dishwasher door. 

And guess what?

This mama is tired.

I wrote NZ an email the other night admitting that there are days that I count down the hours til bedtime. I haaaaate feeling that way, but it's the honest truth. Somedays, parenting just plain wears me out and bedtime can't come soon enough. I'm sure I'm not the first parent  to feel this way, and I'm probably not the last. Here's to hoping that this phase passes quickly and the tantrums lose their frequency as he realizes that they won't get him anywhere. 

In the meantime.....

Dear Santa, can I have some noise cancelling headphones?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween 2014

I've never been big on Halloween and dressing up. As a kid, my mom made me some pretty cool costumes which I'd wear to the school parade, then by nightfall, change my mind and end up in he old standby ballerina tutu. That had to have happened at least four or five years in a row. My poor mother...slaving over costumes that only saw the light of day for a matter of minutes.

 I love you mom.

                             My UCDavis Aggie & tow truck driver 

This year was my kid's first Halloween in the states. My sister sent Sal a construction worker outfit (which he insisted was a tow truck driver outfit) a week or two ago.I made plans to drive to one of my BFF's in Vegas to spend Halloween with her family. At the last minute, Carla's illness had me cancelling our trip.  Sal started his preschool program on Halloween, so there was a silver lining to our missed trip. As he bounded out of class with a paper bag of trick or treat goodies, I admit to having the thought go through my head of, "good, now I don't have to take him out tonight." 

Terrible, right?


But as the afternoon went on, he kept talking about "trick and treatsing" and I decided to take him over to our neighborhood. He trick and treatsed at four or five houses at dusk, with our neighbor's teenage daughter joining us for the walk. He was one of the first trick or treaters for most houses, so he was greeted by barking dogs (who had not yet been out out back) more often than not. Have I mentioned that Sal is not a fan of dogs? Uhm, yeah. He bolted from the first house and the lady had to come all the way to the street to offer him candy. 

Scarred for life. Or, until the next house.

That's when my son learned about doorbells.

                               Trick of treating at the house his dad grew up in

He would get on his tip toes to press the doorbell, his hat would fall off, and he'd be busy collecting it and balancing his pumpkin bucket when the door opened. It was pretty darn cute....and if the door didn't open right away, he would say, "oh, they busy." and proceed to push it two, three and four times in a row. 

Sorry, neighbors!


All in all, I'm glad we went out. I need to remember to see life through my kids eyes more often. It was truly a treat to watch Sal experience this childhood right of passage into Halloween.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Chillin on a dirt road

I love Southern California, but I admit that have a soft spot for Northern California. 

Not only did I spend seven years living in Davis in college and beyond, but my pops also bought property even further north and I've always had such a great time visiting him. The area he lives in is one of those that country songs are written's where the blacktop ends.

My first trip up there was the week after Nick and I lost Denise. We unplugged from reality and spent a weekend riding quads, fishing and drinking beers with my dad and the neighbors. It was just what we needed. We went again after Sal was born, and enjoyed our first helicopter ride overlooking the Sac river and surrounding parcels of land. It was my first (and probably only) helicopter ride ever. 

             Sal's first trip to Grandpa Jets house with his cousin Simon

This time, the kids and I flew up and spent a week and a half with my dad and his longtime girlfriend. I had been looking forward to letting Sal roam free and experience life on a dirt road. Quad rides, dirt digging, feeding horses, playing with the dogs...all of that good stuff that kids should have the freedom to do. 

                                                    Blue skies. I die.

But his favorite part of visiting grandpa Jet and meme? 

                            Opening the workshop up

The garage doors. He lived each day to open and close them. If we drove into town, we spent the next thirty minutes on our drive home listening to him ask to "close the gawage". He also loved riding the quad--and even helped spread manure in the pasture. He was sure to point out where Meme missed some poop. I'm sure she appreciated his supervision. 
                      Riding grandpa Jet's quad   

He proudly fed the horse hay each afternoon, and although skittish at first, he finally came around to feeding the dogs. 

                                "He-whoa, Maggie. I feed you hay"
We went to Turtle bay one afternoon and visited a kids garden. It was the only hot day we had. The rest of the week alternated between rain and sunshine, so we did our share of shopping (they have great second hand boutiques..scored a walker, holiday dresses and shoes for Carla!) and I was even treated to a half hour kid free to get my brows threaded! Bliss!
                            Children's garden at Turtle Bay

My dad came home from work with a surprise for Sal one night. His neighbor was grading their road and had invited Sal to ride along! We hopped in the truck and drove out to meet the grading machine. Sal's eyes lit up at the offer to drive it, but that quickly turned to uncertainty when mama got out of sight. 

                            Driving a real life grading machine

                                       Sunset with grandpa Jet

My aunt and uncle and cousin Simon drove over for a BBQ our last weekend there, and if it wasn't for Carla running a high fever and refusing to eat, it would've been fun. I took Carla to urgent care the day before we flew home and was told she may have hand foot mouth...a common childhood virus that just needed to run its course. 

Poor girl. She's been sick ever since we touched ground in the states. I'm ready for her to catch a break. 

Now it's back to life in Southern California. It's great to be back, but we had a fantastic time up north. 

Teacher & Me

Earlier this week, I checked out a preschool program that I had heard good things about. I had also heard that the slots fill fast, so I entered the office to inquire about "winter" availability...thinking Winter term equated to January.

To my surprise, winter schedule was to begin in just a couple of weeks! And even better, the day/time I was hoping for had openings for Sal.

We visited the teacher and classroom and he lit up. There was a dress up area, an art area, reading area and lots of cars and parking garages to play with. Outside, there were tricycles for each kid  and sidewalk chalk. 


The teacher invited him to join the class or the last few classes of fall term, so we showed up today which happened to be Halloween. Lucky kid. 

From my years of teaching preschool, I knew that a quick goodbye was best, and that no matter what..I couldn't go back in...even if he cried out for me. He would be okay. But to my delight, he was totally cool with me walking out the door after our quick kiss goodbye. 

He made it easy on his mama. 

I returned a couple hours later to find a little boy engrossed in the inner workings of the microwave and refrigerator of the dress up area kitchen. I just hung by the door and observed with a huge smile on my face until he saw me and shouted, "Mama, you came back!" . 

His teacher showed me pictures of his day (they trick or treated to other classrooms) and said he did excellent. 

And just like that, his first day of school is down in the history books. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When bad words fly

Anyone else watch Modern Family?

Remember the episode where Lily says "fu-k" and Cam laughs? Then he and Mitchell have a chat and agree that they must address this word in all seriousness..and then she says it again and Cam can't contain himself?


That'd be me.

A couple of weeks ago, Nick swore he heard Sal utter profanity in a phrase. He's very verbal, but some of his words are still indistinguishable from another. I chalked it up to that. 

And then...riding in my dad's truck last weekend, he says it again. But did I really hear what I thought I just heard?

I texted NZ who wasn't with us on the trip, and he agreed, that's what he heard the week before. At that point I did nothing about it because I wasn't absolutely sure of what I heard and it definitely wasn't in context.

Fast forward to today.

While trying to rush and put shoes on to go help his grandma feed the horse, he had two dogs licking his face and making the task of putting on his shoes very difficult. He pushed the dogs away, and they came back. Frustrated, he yells, "fu-king dammit! Go away dogs". It was as clear as day and no mistaking it.

Used in context.

What's a mom to do?

I immediately turned my head away from him and willed back laughter and my smile and thought " Did he just say that? " I got myself together but it was realllllly hard not to laugh like Cam does in the swear word episode.

I told him that he can't say that phrase even though he might hear adults say it sometimes. I suggested a few alternatives for when he feels frustrated, and I'm hoping they stick. Looking back, maybe I should've ignored it as we've been doing, but since I've addressed it, there's no going back. 

Here's to hoping he doesn't let it slips somewhere wildly inappropriate--like the doctors office or grocery store line. 

And, note to self---they hear EVERYTHING. 

I must now step down from my position as mother of the year.

Anyone else's kids let a bad word or phrase fly? How'd you deal with it?

Monday, October 20, 2014

17 weeks pregnant

Total weight gain/loss: 4 lb

Maternity clothes? Yes, shirts, but still in regular jeans and shorts. Getting close to busting seams though. 

Stretch marks? No. Hoping that the fact that I've birthed three previous babies without getting any means I just don't get them, ever....but we will see.

Sleep: pretty good still. I had wild dreams the first part of pregnancy but they've simmered down enough for me to get a good nights sleep lately. 

Best moment this week: a referral for my detailed ultrasound was finally approved. Also, I think I felt some movement last night, but too soon to know for sure.

Miss anything?: friday night cocktails with NZ.

Movement: Maybe?

Food cravings: Lemonade & graham crackers. 

Anything making you queasy or sick: nope. Had morning sickness the first 12-13 weeks that hit Wilbur fail every afternoon at 3:00, but it has passed and now pretty much everything sounds good to eat. 

Gender: we can find out at my next ultrasound but NZ won't be able to go with me, so I'll wait to find out until we're reunited. Hold onto your horses, aunties & grandmas. 

Happy or Moody?: Happy. I've got a lot of good going on in my life right now. A husband, two healthy kids with another on the way. 

Looking forward to: Having NZ join us in a few weeks and getting to spend holidays with all of our family.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Carla is NINE months!

Happy 9 months to the happiest little girl I know.


She melts my heart every single day with her toothy little smile.

She's sprouted three more teeth since last month. She's a teething machine! With her newfound chompers, she's also become an eating machine. 

Chicken? Sure. Crackers? Heck yeah. Bring on the steak! (Just kidding, no steak yet.)

She will often clear her tray and finish off her big brother's food....especially  if it's spaghetti made by her Nonno. She devours it. 

Most of the clothes we brought over with us are getting a bit snug, so she's moved up to 12 month size on most things except pants. I also put on her first pair of shoes--but she wasn't a fan. They came off as quick as they went on. 


Due to a lingering snotty nose after our flight home, Carla got to meet her pediatrician for the first time this week. She weighed in at 17lb, 7oz. Grow girl grow! Carla also moved out of her bucket seat and into her convertible, and she is a happier traveller because of it. She can finally see out the window at all the things her brother is yelling about. 

"Cemeeeeent mixer! Tankah chuuuuuck! Towing engine!" 

We've spent a few afternoons at our house since  being back. Our first time home, the neighbor kids all greeted us at the car door to see the kids. It was a really nice homecoming. Every time I go to the house in the late afternoon, they come out to hang out with my kids. I think that says a lot about our neighborhood--when 15 year olds willingly hang out and entertain a 9 month old and 2 year old. No doubt, I have quite a few baby sitters available now...which is good, because if the picture below is any indication of what's to come.....I need more eyes. 


This age is so fun though. Carla is really mobile and has even done some balance checks, letting go of whatever is holding her up and standing unassisted for a whole .0002 seconds.  She's also a big time babbler, shrieker and laugher, and it's super cute. She adores her brother, even when he sits on her face. He's a stinker, that one. They feed off each other and it gives me hope that one day he will stop sitting on her and start sharing. A mom can hope, right? 

In our first month home, Carla has been to the zoo, pumpkin patch, a few parks and Target (too many times to count). 

Her favorite by far, are the swings.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Perpetually pregnant

I've got to preface this post by saying--I am really excited to be growing another baby--because I'm afraid while writing this post, it may come across a bit differently. 

While sitting in my OB's office today, for my first appointment with her, I had to go over my pregnancy history with the nurse. I couldn't help but do the's 2014 now. My first miscarriage was 2008. I have been pregnant or trying to get pregnant for every single year since 2008. 

That's crazy.

Six years.

Sixth pregnancy.

When I found out I was expecting again, I was in disbelief. I was still very much a slave to nursing tops and Carla's on demand feeding schedule. I hadn't yet dropped all my pregnancy pounds, although it was coming off, slowly but surely. I hadn't even had the chance to join my husband for Friday night cocktails--one of my favorite things we've done together throughout the years.

And just like that, all of the things I looked forward to doing once Carla started taking bottles were pushed off into the future. My wants would have to wait. Someday I will feel like myself again. 

But for now, I feel perpetually pregnant. 

I'm almost 16 weeks but look 24. The belly is being rocked. When people ask how far along I am, and learn that I'm not even half way, they often tell me it must be a big baby. Or, they tell me, "well, it is number three, you know." And inside my head, the asshole in me is repeating FOUR. This is going to be the fourth baby I've grown and birthed. But you know, I don't want to be an asshole, so I keep that whole snarky FOURTH CHILD inside my head to save any weirdness. 

My hopes for this pregnancy is that I am able to enjoy it. My previous pregnancies were filled with so much anxiety that I lived from appointment to appointment and sometimes made appointments in between just so I could know that the baby was still alive. I was scared of reliving that moment when I learned Denise was no longer living. I still am...but I'm hopeful that I can put fear aside and really just roll with the punches. I'm in a really good place in my life, surrounded by family and easily accessible physicians. I've had two healthy children with no complications. That's got to mean something, right? 

Yet, I still wrestle with that feeling of doom.

This coming from a woman who saw her baby and its heartbeat just two hours ago. 

The countdown is on to my next appointment. 

Such is the life of the perpetually pregnant. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014


We're Californians again!

Sorry I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, but as you can imagine, life has been busy since we landed almost two weeks ago. The kids and I are here to stay, but we're wanting time to slow down before NZ heads back to China in a few days. We will miss him.

My days have been filled with errands, and phone calls, and getting utilities switched back over, etc. I managed to fit a trip to the salon in, and finally got my hair done for the first time in two years, and aside from growing another human, I'm feeling more and more like myself again. It's amazing what a hairstyle will do for your sanity. 


I had anticipated the purchase of my car and agonized over the choices within our needs, but when it all came down to it, I looked at one minivan and knew it wasn't the car for me. We purchased my wheels in record time once I had ruled out the minivan, and I'm happy with my choice. It will serve our family well, and the kids will dig the dual DVD players once they're both forward facing. Welcome to the American way of overindulgence. 

Right now, I'm a bit panicked about my prenatal care, as my insurance was a train wreck upon receipt of our cards--none of us were assigned the physicians we had selected. I gave up and saw a new PcP, and like him well enough to stay, but now insurance isn't showing me as a member of the HMO group I was assigned to, so my authorization for prenatal care is at a halt. It will all work out, but it's quite frustrating. I've got better things to do than spend an afternoon on the phone explaining and re-explaining my situation to different reps, only to be disconnected. I mean, really? As of today, it might be fixed, but it took a hell of a lot of my attention to get things straightened out. 

The kids have adjusted really well. Jetlag was only an issue for two nights, which is a record in this house. Carla did share a cold with Sal and me--apparently licking airplane seats isn't a good idea. I think we are all past the worst of it now. 


We have had some fun since getting back- the kids and I went to the Santa Barbara zoo last week while NZ fished with his dad, and we took a trip to the pumpkin patch with friends. We've had a few friends host dinners for us, which has been a nice break from all the eating out we've been doing. It's great to catch up and hang out with those we have missed. 

I guess that's all for now. Time to get today started. 

Go go go! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

An 8th Anniversary announcement

Thought I'd share something that is just the icing on the cake of my husband's and my 8th wedding anniversary which happens to be today.

My due date might be April Fools Day, but this certainly isn't an early April fools blog post.

It's for real.

Yes, Carla just turned 8 months old. 

She's still an infant...and I found myself staring at two pink lines when she was just six months old and almost exclusively nursing. I took tests for three consecutive days before calling my OB to confirm. 

Here in China, there's a one child per family rule (there are some exceptions), so imagine the look on the pharmacy clerk's face when in rolls my double stroller with two little ones, and me asking for an HCG test with my handy dandy google translate app. 

The pharmacist brought me a box of birth control pills. I kid you not.

I shook my head and handed them back...saying super slowly in English, "preg-nan-ceee teeeest" as if she'd understand that better than the translation. She then points behind me..condoms.

This was going nowhere fast.

But, as she was showing me my birth control options, I spied them. The tests. At the equivalent of 50 cents in US money, I bought two. That would surely be enough to confirm my suspicions. 

The kids and I made our way home and I raced to take the first test. I was stumped. My eyes were playing tricks. I thought I saw two lines, but figured it was my eyes seeing through the test strip. 


Maybe it was a faulty test (picture me uttering: "damn, china!")? So, instead of waiting til the next morning, I busted open test #2 and peed on that one.

Same result.

What the whaaaa?!

So what did I do? Took a picture and texted it to NZ, naturally.

I mean, what husband doesn't love getting texted pregnancy test pictures in the middle of his work day?

After seeing it, he wasn't sure either and told me to take another test.

I slept on it, and ventured out the next morning to the same pharmacy with the same pharmacist. I bought one test. I shouldn't need more than one, I thought. The clerk was definitely puzzled, and if her giggles were any indication,I'm pretty sure she made fun of me to her colleague as I was leaving.

So, I took test #3 and wouldn't you know it, another faint double line.

By now I'm uttering to myself, "effing China!" for all these faulty tests. Too embarassed to go back out to the Pharmacy again, I sat on the possibility of being pregnant for the day. 

The next day, I was determined to get a cut and dry answer. I loaded up the kids and walked 3 kilometers to the next nearest pharmacy so that I wouldn't have to face the same clerk again. And this time...I stocked up on those bad boys. 

I was NOT going back for more. No way!

Got home and took test #'s 4,5 & 6 and they were all clear as day.

TWO pink lines.

Confirmed the following week by bloodtest, and an ultrasound the week after.

I'm thrilled. Pretty sure my old man is thrilled too. After the journey we have been on, to get to this moment and have this chance at parenthood, yet again....there's no other feeling than that of thankfulness. I still recall the long hours spent in waiting rooms at the fertility clinic, hoping that one day, we would get just ONE live baby to bring home. Four years later, I've been lucky enough to have TWO, and another on the way. 

Here's to hoping we keep our sanity with three littles under three. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Carla is 8 months old!

We have teeth! 

Two to be exact. They popped through just after she turned 7 months old. No fever, no cold, not really fussy--just a few nights of waking once and going back to sleep. Hopefully she sails through the rest of her teething days. I was prepared for an ordeal and she made it really easy on me. She's one tough cookie, that girl.

Speaking of tough cookie--Carla received her first "shiner" aka. Black eye courtesy of big brother Sal. He's very possessive of his trucks, and she's very persistent. Put the two together and it's a recipe for a fist full of wooden truck wheels in the face. I'm sure it's not the last time someone gets clocked while playing tug of war with toys. I'm just feeling a tad guilty I turned my back for a few seconds to get lunch together. I seriously need another set of eyes. And while we're at it, another set of hands would be great too.

Nothing is safe. Carla has learned how to pull herself to a stand using furniture, and she took a few side steps today, so I know cruising furniture is next on her lost of things to accomplish. What was once safe on our coffee table, is no longer. Time to move cell phones, soda cans and remotes to higher grounds. She's quite tickled with herself for climbing things, and I love the "look at me!" grin when she masters climbing something new. 

Am I ready for her to cruise? 

Absolutely not. I thought I had another month based off comparisons to her brother. He started pulling to a stand around 10 months old...we saw it coming and were prepared. With Carla, we were playing in the living room and I rolled over from playing with Sal on the floor to see her perching herself against a box of duplos. 
Thanks to my friend Brandy's IG feed and pictures of her daughter eating rice and beans, I added rice to Carla's meals and she loves it. That's probably how she got to 17 lb, 13 oz this month. She's eating a lot of purees still but I've also started cutting carrots and apples into small (I'm talking smaaaaaall) cubes and steaming them until tender for her to use as finger food. I toss some rice and halved kidney/garbanzo/pinto beans on her high chair tray and she goes to town. I was adding banana but  Let me just say that manhandled banana acts like glue when paired with rice and beans. It's straight to bath after bananas.  

 She seems to enjoy self feeding, and despite the mess it makes, I'm happy to see her figuring out how to get food from point A to point B. We are all eating at the table now, so it's nice to have her sitting with us as opposed to rolling on the floor pulling at our feet  while we scarf our dinners down.

I'm looking forward to our move home at the end of the month which will mark Carla's first time ever in the USA. Just saying that seems crazy to me. It will also be her first time meeting grandmas, grandpas, Nanas, aunties, uncles and cousins. The only two family members that have met her in person have been her Nonno and auntie Stephanie, and she was less than 8 weeks old when those visits happened. I'm hoping for an easy transition, but I'd be foolish to think that we won't have any hiccups. Jetlag can be a bitch on its own--add one kid and it's brutal, two kids and well......we'll have to see just how long one can survive on zero sleep. It's usually only a few days until we've adjusted, so my fingers are crossed cause we have lots on our to do list upon landing.