Friday, December 11, 2015

Keeping busy

NZ was in India this past week, so the kids and I kept busy to make the days go faster and the nights seem shorter. 

Sunday night We kicked off our week with a drive through the neighborhood to check out Christmas lights  and ended it with a nightcap of McDonald's soft serve ice cream well after bedtime. Carla and Sal were so excited that they talked for two hours after I tucked them in that night. 

Tuesday was about 80 degrees and gorgeous, so we packed up our beach toys and snacks and headed to our favorite park on the beach. 

After school on Wednesday afternoon we invited our favorite baby sitter over to make a gingerbread house and Christmas tree ice cream cones. 

On Thursday we drove to Santa Barbara and visited our grandmas, grandpa, aunts and uncles. Sal was excited that uncle Julio drove by and honked the horn on his low boy tow truck while we were at my moms.  My uncle Greg and aunt Michael were also in town from Oregon and spoiled the kids and me with attention (and extra sets of arms and eyes!). It was really nice to see everyone.

And with that, our week alone has come to an end and NZ will be home to love on the kids and make a super important Christmas tree purchase this weekend! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Birthday brunch

I'm 38!

This post is a week late, but c'mon.


I get a hall pass right?

Anyways, between the hustle and bustle of our ever busy schedule, I was able to steal away a few hours while Sal was at school and meet up with two of my old friends/ former aggie gymnastics teammates who happened to be in town at the same time, for brunch. 

While the end of my gymnastics career was soured by a poor coach/ athlete relationship, the friendships I made during my three years on the team have lasted the test of time. Honestly, the team was like my sorority. These girls are my sisters. 

It was such a nice surprise to have Krissy in from Maui, and Jen down from Oakland. We sat outside at a small cafe in Calabasas, soaking up the sunshine and catching up on one another's lives. 

It was the perfect way to celebrate turning 38. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

DIY Mercury glass

I've seen tons of Mercury glass in the holiday catalogs I've received. Everyone from Pottery barn to Ballard designs seems to have some for sale. Heck, even my local Joanns has Mercury glass mason jars for $3.99 each. 

While I could just buy them, I am always a fan of DIY projects-especially for holiday decor. I searched and compared many Pinterest how-to's before deciding on my method. 

Most of the Pinterest DIY Mercury glass tutorials suggest Krylon Looking glass spray, but at $11.99 a can, I just couldn't. I am all about cheap. 

I had some shiny gold spray paint leftover from Carla's room (I sprayed a paper mache letter and her mirror frame gold) and decided I'd give it a go. I bought a few clear votives from the dollar tree and rushed home in anticipation of an afternoon project. 

Of course Gino decided he wasn't tired and didn't need a nap, so he hung out eating puffs in his high chair while I busted this project out in less than 10 minutes. 

So, here's how I did it. Sorry for the lack of photos. 

Mask off outside of your glass. Put tape around the outside rim of them ass to catch any rogue drips and wrap glass in paper to avoid overspray. The paint gets sprayed inside the glass on this project. 

Next, get your windex spray handy. Mist the inside of your glass. Both big and small drops are good, as are streaks. 

While the windex is still wet and in droplet form on your glass, spray your gold paint over it. Most will run off and pool on the bottom. That's okay. Turn your glass upside down and pour out any accumulated paint/water. 

Let it dry til you can touch it without it coming off on your fingers. Take a paper towel and scrub various areas inside the glass. 

Spray with gold paint again. 

Take off masking tape and paper and let dry. 

It's super easy. And fun. 

Add tea lights and voila. You've got a thanksgiving centerpiece that doesn't crowd the table. 

I'm already trying to come up with other uses for Mercury glass around here. Maybe Christmas ornaments next? How cool would a Mercury glass ornament wreath be?!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Almost four

You guys...I am in love. 

While three years old wasn't the worst it could be, I did find it more challenging than the terrible twos. But all of a sudden, as we round out his third year, Sal has turned a corner and become such a helpful, loving (but still sneaky) little guy....and I am so in love with this age he is now. Almost four is my favorite.

We've got less tantrums, and more understanding. We have more words and less hitting. We have more "mom, I can do that myself" and less whining " I can't do iiiiiiit!"

Don't get me wrong, we still have our moments (daily), but for the majority of our day together, he's such an awesome little sidekick. 

Amongst my favorite things about Sal is our conversations. Don't ever think that kids don't understand things--they're always watching, listening and judging. He reminds me every day of that, with conversations that go into depth on something he's been told or heard. 

Today it was a motorcyclist who was behind us on the freeway on ramp that merged onto the freeway and came up my side as I was merging on. I of course swore at the guy, and without skipping a beat, Sal tells me that the motorcyclist should be more careful and wait for the cars in front of him to merge so nobody hits him. He goes on to say that motorcyclists only wear helmets and if they crash all their skin comes off as road rash. He then says that we are protected by seat belts and the metal of our car frame. [Insert shocked emoji here]

How's he know this stuff?!

The other night he told us his tooth is loose and that when it falls out he will put it under his pillow for the tooth fairy. "The tooth fairy leaves gold coins", he says. Nick and I looked at each other wondering who had told him that. When asked, he said, " I saw it on tv". 

A few weeks ago Carla had dumped out his cup of discarded pistachio shells on the living room floor and Gino motored over towards them. I reprimand Carla by telling her she can't have nuts if she's going to leave them on the floor. Sal pipes in." Yeah Carla. Gino will have to go live with Kevin!"  I asked him who Kevin is and he answered, " you know up there in the clouds. That's where Kevin is. If Gino eats the nut and chokes, he'll die and go to Kevin's house". 

Later conversation revealed he was referring to Heaven--not Kevin--although I'm sure there are some Kevin's in heaven. 

 I about keeled over from cuteness. 

After all this time of him not showing any interest in coloring or  writing he is finally asking me to help him trace his name. He's doing awesome. I'm so proud of the strides he's making. 

He is still attending his teacher and me class twice a week, but come January, and turning four--he will attend preschool three mornings a week. 

He is sooo  ready. Can't wait to see him continue to learn, grow and master his environment.

Watch out FOUR, we're coming for ya!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

When babies don't sleep

It's been a solid seven weeks since I last had more than a four hour stretch of sleep at night. My once good sleeper, who went to bed at 7:00, woke at 4:15 to eat, and then back to sleep til 7:00 am, is no longer. 

Seven weeks, folks.

I can't even do the math on how many hours of sleep lost, or how many nights I've been up shushing him back to sleep. It's been an eternity for all I know.

My days run together, my Visine bottle is damn near empty, and my hope of ever sleeping again is slowly dying. 

NZ and I have wracked our brain as to what could be causing this regression, and we've run the gamut- teething (he has 5, and one on the way), learning to crawl, eating solids, my reintroduction of dairy (minimal), formula could be anything. Honestly, I just don't know. At my wits end this past week, I borrowed a couple of sleep advice books, skimmed them.....then waved my white flag and called my pediatrician office. 

The advice given was to quit dairy, again. Give water to the boy when he wakes at non-eating times (rather than nurse him), and to go in at 5-10-15 minute intervals to let him cry it out in a controlled way (?!) Honestly, I haven't done any reading on this CCIO method, because I just don't have an ounce of fucks to give. I got the cliffs notes version from the on call pediatrician and we tried it the next night. Nick was able to get the boy back to sleep during his first non-feeding time waking and I was successful with the second waking. In fact he slept through his usual feeding time that night.

We've had a few better nights since then, but last night he and I were back up FOUR times. FOUR! That's three times too many for this mama. 

I held out...but he held out longer. At some point, you give in, because....sleep. I determined that lying in bed listening to him scream ( and getting out of my warm bed) for over an hour and a half, was crazy. I nursed. He went out. Just two hours of reprieve, but still...Sleep. 

The next morning I decided I need a sleep trainer to come help me. Did a little FB moms group research, only to find out that, contrary to my preconceived notions, a sleep trainer doesn't actually come to your house to take over. What the fuck?! Why pay someone $200 plus to NOT come physically save my ass and allow me to sleep while they sort out the mess we've gotten into?

So, sleep training was a big fat, NOPE.

Next thought was trying some of the hippy oils or teething necklaces. If even just for placebo effect. I just don't know.

I've since talked to a few of my real life mom friends, and was astounded to learn that their babies did this too for xyz amount of months. And what did they do?

Got up and nursed those babies to sleep, knowing that this won't last forever.

So, here I am, three nights after starting this post, sitting, nursing, and deliriously finishing my post while eating clearance candy corn from CVS at 10:45 pm. 

Sweet baby G, one day we will laugh about this. Right?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Halloween 2015

We survived Halloween 2015! 

Sal had his mind made up early on that he was going to be a Popsicle for Halloween. After an Internet search for Popsicle costumes turned up exactly two results (and Pinterest was surprisingly no help!), I had to get creative and figure out how to bring his dreams to life. He wanted to be a "melty" Popsicle. Specifically, a red and orange melty one. And he wanted his legs to be the sticks. Gotta give it to him, he had given the execution of this costume some thought! 

Well, I bought foam core board and cut out a Popsicle shape and made a big bite out of it. Sal helped me figure out how to paint it and we hung an elastic loop around the top so he could "wear it like a necklace". 

He was so excited to wear it to his class parade. 

Yeah....he was stoked, but mama wasn't. 

..And by this time he had been telling me that he wanted to be a green one instead. 

What's a mom to do, but make a naptime run to Joanns to buy green poster board and butter up auntie Stephanie to print out a Popsicle logo. 

The final product was so so much better than the original. 

Carla was a jazzerciser this year. Many moons ago, my mama jazzercized herself skinny and I'd watch from the kids room thinking those ladies looked so cool. I've had this costume in mind since before she was born. 

A borrowed swimsuit, tights and some cut off knee high socks made this little aerobics costume work for less than $3 out of pocket. I repurposed a Costco size applesauce pouch box into her treat bucket by spray painting it black and using gold sharpie to make it into a boom box. A little handle from duct tape and voila....

Last but not least, G wore some hand me down skeleton pjs of Carla's. He stayed home with me and handed out candy while NZ took the bigs around the neighborhood to collect their treats. 

While they had fun collecting candy, I suspect next year will be the year that Halloween turns into a big freaking deal and all three littles will be making the rounds. I'm looking forward to what their little minds come up with for costume ideas! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Carla, lately.

One of the best parts of parenthood is watching your little helpless babies grow into capable and independent people. I absolutely love when they start talking. The little voices, the mispronounced words, the charades to finally figure out that they mean "Popsicle" not "paw taprol (paw patrol)" and the like. 

Carla is at a point where she is stringing together short sentences and I just can't get enough. One of her first sentences was, wait for it....

"I want that."

This smart little girl has already learned how to be assertive. When I told her it isn't polite to say it that way and suggested she say, "may I please have that", she countered with "I want that peeeeeeeeease" with a scrunched up little nose that nobody could say no to. 

She infatuated with the tv cartoon "Paw Patrol" and we can't go into Target without her screaming and pointing, "Paw Taprol!!!!" as we pass by the toy aisle devoted to Paw Patrol. She has most of the figurines that are part of the show, and knows them all by name. She rattles off "Marshall, Zuma, Skye, Wubble (rubble), and Wockee (rocky)" when I show her a figurine.

Carla still loves to accessorize. Her favorite accessory as of late has been an old clutch of mine, filled with her Paw Patrol figurines. She insists on wearing her black sequined sheepskin boots even though it's 85 and humid as hell, and loves to top off the ensemble with a baseball cap three sizes too big. 

As she hones in on age two, I'm catching glimpses of teenage Carla and knowing that this girl, full of spunk and sass, is going to keep me on my toes. But along with that stubborn streak she's got, there's a whole lot of love. She's a very doting big sister to her human brother, her feline brother and all of her stuffed animals and dolls. She showers us all with snuggles and kisses and the sweetest, " I yuh youuuuu" that just melts my heart. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pumpkin picking 2015

We skipped the huge fall festival at the local farm this year and opted to drive up to Ventura to a smaller patch. While we love the local farm the rest of the year (petting zoo, tractor rides) the $45 entry fee for our three paying family members plus food, rides and pumpkins was more than I was willing to spend. 

We found a great small patch and the kids went nuts trying to find a pumpkin that maxed out their lifting limits. Our rule is that they can have any pumpkin so long as they can carry it themselves. 

We got them home and they're chomping at the bit to carve them already. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gino is 6 months old

G celebrated his 6 month birthday by cutting his first two teeth. Cutting was a bit of a rough go for a day or two, but once they came through he was back to his usual self. He's currently cutting the top two and I'm a little sad to see his gummy smile go as it gets replaced with little chicklet teeth.  

I love watching him scoot over to his siblings as they play with their duplo blocks and get hold of one himself. It's like, " hey guys! Here I am! I want to play too!"

He still loves his thumb. When he gets tired he pops it in his mouth and sucks himself to sleep. He's my only thumb sucker so I'm not sure when/how we will tackle breaking the habit. I'm guessing sooner is better than later, but I'd be lying if I said it's not nice to have a self soother. 

The biggest achievement of month six has been his willingness to take a bottle. I sought out advice from a few other moms and they suggested a particular brand of bottle. I sprung for one at Target last week and that very same day he downed two ounces! He even held it himself--score. The only problem now is a feisty kitten who wants in on his bottle. 

We did a bunch of morning walks this month, and once he hit the magical 6 month mark, he started attending the daycare at my gym so I can finally get a decent sweat going again. He's a happy little guy and the girls fight over who gets to hold him each time I drop him off. 

Sleep could be better- he's been waking 1-2 times per night despite eating some purees and having a few ounces of formula per day. It could be the teeth....It could be his guts....or it could be that he's about to crawl on all fours. Who knows? I just hope we're back to our regular schedule again soon!

He had a pediatrician appointment for his 6 month check up and he weighs a whopping 15 lbs and measures 27.75" tall. That puts him in the long and lean category--weight is 15% and height is 90%. He's growing well and I'm quite happy to hear that! A healthy baby is a happy baby. 

Stay tuned for month seven....

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.