Surf, Jam, Live in a Van: Our Trip to Laguna Beach

We road tripped it to Laguna Beach this past weekend. It was a loooong ride. It took about NINE hours with all our stops. It’s not easy entertaining a baby that dislikes being in the car seat. Mental note: never do this again.

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We stayed at the Laguna Beach House which I highly recommend! The location can’t be beat – right next to Heisler State Park and just a short walk to the downtown. The staff was very friendly too! They had a pack n play set up in our room before we arrived.

This vacation was definitely very different than our past vacations. We were up at 6am each day (thanks Lyra!) and settled in the for night at 7pm. Though we were still able to do a lot. It was HILARIOUS watching Lyra touch sand for the first time. She absolutely HATED it. We’ve never seen her grip us more tightly than she did when we were trying to place her feet down in the sand. That girl’s grip is iron!

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Chris put her feet in the ocean which she also hated haha. Poor baby. I think she must have felt like we were torturing her.

Laguna Beach was very baby friendly. We saw babies everywhere! We can’t wait to come back with Lyra when she’s older. And able to be in car…

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Conveniences for the Modern Momma

It may be that each generation of parents wonder how the previous generation managed to raise kids without the conveniences they have. I know we certainly do! We’re raising Lyra in the age of Dr. Google and social media for better or for worse. There’s a lot of information to sort through (which is not always reliable) so I do take it with a grain of salt. I find the best part of being plugged 24/7 is seeing that there are other parents facing the exact same situation as us (guilty of searching “my baby only sleeps when held,” “my baby doesn’t nap,” “my baby doesn’t like to be put down” and “HELP”). It opens up this whole community that you may not otherwise have. And we learn that we are not alone.

Though in the same vein, we’re also facing information overload. I sometimes have to snap out of whatever rabbit hole I’m in, and close the computer before my mind explodes. Also when you have parents with opposing philosophies, things can get real snarky and judgey. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Truthfully, my best resources are my mommy friends who have been there, and done that.

The interwebs aside, there are some other conveniences that has made this parenting life slightly easier. Here are my favorites:

  1. Tablo X by Yogibo. It’s a pillow for your iPad! It was great to be able to prop the iPad on my lap especially in the early mornings when I was nursing Lyra and she would fall asleep on me. It allowed me to catch up on my shows (The Bachelor of course – my god, is that all I watch? The answer is YES. P.S. I can’t wait for JoJo’s season!) and read my news feed.
  2. Baby Connect app. I love this app! I can record every feeding, diaper, nap times and more – no more searching for a pen and paper or trying to remember the times in my head. I can also see Lyra’s info as a graph which is nice for us data-minded freaks. Also it allows multiple caretakers to log in and record data so Chris is able to enter in stuff and he can see how Lyra’s day is going from work.
  3. LoopyCases. This is such a lifesaver for me! I love being able to carry my phone with one finger and other stuff with the same hand, like Lyra! The loop also acts as a stand for the phone so it can be propped up which comes in handy if you’re doing something like watching a video.
  4. SnoofyBee Changing Pad. This didn’t really become useful until just recently when Lyra discovered her hands. It helps me keep her hands out of her diaper so I can change her without trying to hold her arms and hands down with my elbow.

Some friends use Owlet for peace of mind. It’s a little sock that goes on your baby’s foot and tracks their vitals. If there are any changes in the baby’s heart rate or oxygen, a red light goes off. They said they like it because they bedshare and it helps them know they are not smothering their baby at night. Looks fancy!

Let me know if you have any other favorites!

It’s Pouring

What is this mysterious substance coming down from the sky?!

Rain!!

I have lived in San Francisco for almost 5 years now and I can probably count on two hands how many times it has rained, like truly, really rain. I’m not talking about light misting, but torrential downpours where you feel like you’re being washed away.

These past few days have been downpours. Lyra and I got caught in it! I never seem to remember that dang ol’ umbrella. It was fun, for like a second. But luckily we were not far from home.

The rain is somewhat reflective of this whole last week. Starting on Sunday, we stretched ourselves a little too thin by trying to do all the things. We planned a hike and brunch in Oakland. Sounds innocent enough, right?

Right.

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@Redwood Regional Park

Except Lyra hardly napped in the morning and so we figured she might nap in the car on the way to Oakland. Nope. OK, well she might take a nice, long nap on the hike. NOPE. Technically she did nap but it was like an itty, bitty one that was more like a really long blink. OK, OK, maybe she will nap on the way to brunch. FINALLY. But it was again, short. Better, but short. She was fine at brunch and even fell asleep on the way back to the city. But we couldn’t transfer her to the apartment without her waking up, as sly as we were. SIGH. Another short nap. She was not a happy camper. Something you learn quickly as a parent of an infant is that shitty naps lead to shitty nights. And it was pretty shitty. We are used to her sleeping a long stretch (~3 hours) before waking for a feeding but that night, she woke up every 45 minutes or so.

The next morning, I thought it was a chance to start anew. Except, she wouldn’t nap. She fought it, HARD. After over an hour of trying to get her to nap, I felt myself bursting into tears. We were both crying at that point. It was very unexpected. Lyra is not an easy sleeper, has never really been- she just doesn’t like to sleep. We both agree she is a lot like me in this regard. But it had never been this hard to put her down before. I felt like I was in some bizarro world and I didn’t know what to do. Am I cut out for this?? After taking a deep breath, I decided nap time would be over and went about the rest of the morning as if she napped. We went to visit my friend who just had a baby five weeks ago and Lyra fell asleep in the carrier on the way there. So that was nice. EXCEPT it was for 19 minutes. At that point, I was like I GIVE UP. The day did eventually get better. (Eating cookies certainly helped.) That evening, Lyra felt hotter than usual. When I took her temperature, it was 100.7 and then an hour or so later, it was 101.9!

Poor Lyra. I realized she was having a hard time just as I was. We did as much as we could to make her feel comfortable while monitoring her temperature. Her sleep did suffer later that night but I actually felt a lot more zen about everything. We did extra cuddles with her to make her sleep easier. She’s gotten almost back to normal now.

When it rains, it pours. The next day my Dad told me Kara, our wonderful corgi, died. I knew her health was on the decline but I didn’t think, or want to think, that she could possibly die. I feel if there is one thing people know me for, is that I LOVE corgis, and I am OBSESSED with my corgi. My apartment is literally a shrine to corgis and my phone’s background and MacBook background is of Kara, not Lyra or Chris. It’s hard for me to explain how much a pet can mean to you to those who do not have any fur babies. But they become your family just as much as any human family member. You might actually like them more than your human family. Heck, I missed Kara the most anytime I went away. She was full of love and the best pup anybody could ask for. Truthfully I have not fully grasped that she is gone. I haven’t given myself much time to think about it since I am focusing my energy on Lyra. I know I will be a ball of a mess soon. Right now, denial feels like an okay place to be.

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Our last selfie.

I kind of wish Lyra was old enough to play with me in the rain. I laughed a little this week when we were caught in the rain. It reminded me of this one time in Boston when my friend Aleks and I were walking across the Commons when all of a sudden a sun shower hit. At first we started running through the park to try and get to Downtown Crossing so we could pop into a store. Then we started to slow down and stood by this tree, which provided no shelter at all, and started hysterically laughing. We were drenched. It was really awful, but so ridiculously humorous at the same time. When the cloud passed, and the rain stopped, we walked, sopping wet, into Wendy’s and ate some burgers. That feeling of just letting the rain fall on me felt wonderfully freeing. I’ll never forget it.

How I Survived The First Six Months of Parenthood

Isn’t retrospect grand? Chris and I spent so much time preparing for the labor and birth of our darling daughter that we didn’t leave much time to prepare ourselves for what we would do after we brought her home! (How hard can this be? Answer: Really fucking hard – Chris’ words, not mine.) Granted, her early arrival didn’t help either but now that we are six months in, this is how we survived (are still surviving):

  1. We put our pre-baby lives on hold. While we adjusted to our new normal, we put all the TV shows, hobbies, constant social media updates, and distractions on hold. When we got home from the hospital, my three main goals were eat, sleep and breastfeed. It was definitely tempting to just jump right back in the swing of things but I think you’ll just burn yourself out. When you make the jump from two to three, everything will change. And even though your newborn will be sleeping most of the time, you yourself, new momma, will need time to recover. When your baby becomes more interactive, you will spend your day playing with her, feeding her, and putting her to sleep…and REPEAT. Today, my goals remain the same except I see it as a win if I can take a shower every other day, brush my teeth at a respectable hour, put on sunscreen, and catch the latest Bachelor episode (#obsessed).
  2. Outsource everything that is possible (at least in the beginning). The first week home we hired a house cleaner. We used Instacart to get staple grocery items. Instead of asking for gifts, we asked our friends to set up a meal train. It was such a lifesaver not having to cook. This statement coming from a person who loves to cook too. We were grateful to spend our time bonding as a new family and not wondering, what’s for dinner? *Though, I must say if we had to do it again, I would specify to friends who want to visit, that 15 or 20 minutes would be great/ideal. We had some friends stay over an hour…there are so many ways you can say “please leave” with your eyes.
  3. Made parenthood our own. Meaning read all the books, listen to well-meaning friends and family tell you their tales and give you advice…and then choose what works for you and make parenthood your own. In the beginning, we spent a lot of time trying to follow the advice of other people and obsessing word for word what our parenting books were saying about our baby. Then we realized, what works for others won’t necessarily work for us. This helped immensely especially since Lyra is not your classic ‘textbook baby.’ And I really hated second guessing myself but once I shut out all the ‘noise’ I was able to be present with Lyra and take my cues from her and TRUST myself.
  4. Practice empathy. There were times (many, many times) when I wanted to clock Chris over the head because of something he did or said. And we would start arguing over a tiny thing that all of a sudden became a big thing. I’m not saying I was perfect or right in all of this – there were times I’m sure where Chris felt I was a raging monster. But when we were both able to practice empathy with one another, and really see and understand where the other person is coming from, it helped us 1) communicate better, 2) realize we are a team, and 3) appreciate each other more.  We also practiced empathy with Lyra! There were many, many sleepless nights where we would just be like go the F*%& to sleep baby! But when we were able to take a step back and think about things from her eyes – as in I want to go to sleep, but I don’t know how – it helped us be more compassionate and patient parents.

We are definitely not experts (nor plan to be) in parenting but we are learning each day. I can’t believe Lyra is growing up so fast already! I remember those first few weeks where she would snuggle and sleep on my chest. I miss moments like those! And as much as I gripe about having to hold her so much now, I know there will come a day when I’ll miss doing that too.

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If you have any survival tips for new parents, let me know!

Banana Wheat Germ Muffins

Side note: I accidentally published a blog post recently that I wrote as a cathartic release. It was a total rant. You know when you call up your bestie and start the convo, “I just need to bitch for 10 minutes.” Basically it was that. I’m done now. 

Yay the Broncos won! Lyra let me watch 15 minutes of the game. It was really nice of her.

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Watching SB50 outdoors at a friend’s…or trying to.

She also let me bake muffins this weekend. I’ve been on a heavy carb diet ever since giving birth. Breads, pasta, rice, noodles, etc…I crave them. It’s almost worse than when I was pregnant! Part of it is because I’m breastfeeding I’m sure, but another part of it is because I need the energy to keep up with Miss L. She is a handful no doubt and I feel like I’m prepping for a marathon each day. I started eating muffins daily too. Certainly not the good kind of carbs. I also thought of muffins as mini cakes. I don’t care if you add some blueberries to them and call them breakfast. Its still CAKE. Ugh, but I’m so into eating them lately and at this point YOLO (yes, I’m using that) and also, I have a baby so again, YOLO.

Though I realized buying a $3 muffin daily was just as bad as those $5 lattes (also guilty). Besides, I don’t really know what goes into these muffins and I want to still be somewhat healthy (most days). So I made a batch this weekend while Lyra napped using a recipe from one of my favorite cookbook authors for kids actually! Figured what’s good for them works for me.

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Banana Wheat Germ Muffins
Recipe adapted from Weelicioius.com by Catherine McCord
Makes 12 muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium ver ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 large egg
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup sliced almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line muffin tin.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add in remaining ingredients except for the chocolate chips and almonds and mix with a spatula until combined.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 stages until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips and almonds.
  5. Evenly pour batter into muffin tin.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Balancing Act

According to Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science (highly recommend this book!), mothers who are working part-time reported less depression and have better general health than stay-at-home moms. This isn’t to say that SAHM are NOT happy because I do know some mommas who love being at home. But I can totally understand the sentiment of those moms who WANT to work. I feel like I am somewhere in the middle. I love being home with Lyra (and I love that I am able to do so) but it doesn’t fill me up. I need more.

That’s why I continue to be a consultant despite the stress it brings. Especially the industry I am in (international development) where it seems the work that comes in was due yesterday and usually involves trying to get in contact with an office in a developing country where the Skype is spotty and the person who has all the answers is traveling in a remote area and unreachable – true story. And yet, I still want to work. I need to work. Not that being a SAHM is NOT work. It is the hardest work I’ve done and its UNPAID. For my mental health though, getting time to use a different part of my brain and having a break from being Lyra’s ball and chain is much needed.

A few weeks ago I got a consulting contract and I thought I could work while Lyra naps but since she is a serial catnapper, my window to work is anywhere between 30-45 minutes. Which translates to, open computer, read through email chains to figure out what to do, open up Excel document, go back to decipher emails, go back to Excel and oh, she’s up. I eventually had to work at times when she was awake and that was damn near impossible. I didn’t give Lyra the attention and care she needed because my mind was split on her and working. The client I had probably received the worst work I’ve delivered. It was all around pretty crappy. I knew I could do better – on both fronts. So we made the decision to hire a part-time babysitter to help me during the week and make me feel sane again and not spinning out of control. And just making the decision, was a total relief. I felt like 10 pounds (really 13) lighter.

The babysitter started last Tuesday and you wanna know what I did with those precious hours? I went two blocks down to Starbucks, got a decaf flat white, hunkered down at the corner table and watched The Bachelor in peace (don’t judge). I did get some invoices out so it wasn’t totally a mind waste. (But even if I didn’t, who cares???) After a morning off, I felt totally recharged and energized. I can be a much better momma for Lyra and a much better worker for my clients. And when more contract work comes in, I can feel GOOD about working and feel GOOD that Lyra is getting undivided attention from her babysitter.

Happy Anniversary!

This weekend Chris and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. We started off Saturday by going to the farmers market where we gorged ourselves – or at least I did – on zeppoles, baked goods and egg sandos. YUM. Gotta love breastfeeding. I am hungry ALL THE TIME.

That night we made dinner plans and hired a real babysitter, our first, to watch Lyra. We’ve gone out before but would have friends watch her – this was new territory. A new beginning with lots of date nights and reclaiming glimpses of my old life. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Lyra usually goes to bed pretty easily after bath time but I think she knew something was up. Chris was walking around dressed in a tie. A tie for god sakes. Her daddy has never worn a tie! What is he doing now? And I put on make up (shocking) and had my going out clothes all ready. She smelled us a mile away just like how Kara would always know when we were planning on leaving the house. She would go berserk no matter how stealth we thought we were. I would clutch the keys in my hands so it wouldn’t jingle and slip them in my back pocket. My mom would tiptoe around the door trying to get her shoes on. We would slowly turn the door knob and hold our breaths and like always, Kara’s spidey senses would turn on and she would run to the door barking, where are you going?? 

We thought we could put Lyra down for bed, the babysitter would show up, we’d leave for dinner and we come home to the babysitter sitting on the couch where we left her with our sleeping baby in the next room. HA HA. Lyra was basically like nope, I’m not going down easy tonight. After an unusual amount of patting, bouncing, and shushing Lyra was in her crib and we hurried the heck out of our apartment. Bye bye baby! G’luck babysitter!

Chris and I had dinner at Luce. It was AMAZING. Which is funny because we were not really sold on the menu when we chose this restaurant. All the places we wanted to eat at were already booked or had a ridiculously $100 cancellation fee if we were a no-show. And since we’ve been living on baby time for the past five months, there’s always a chance (a big chance) that your plans will go awry so better not to have anything set in stone. Except for that – you can set that in stone.

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S’mores, Handmade Sweetbread Ravioli with Italian Black Truffles, Duck Breast with Baby Carrots, Black Plums and Chantrelle.

Anyways the dining experience was great – the food, the service, the ambiance – all of it. I tried sweetbreads for the first time! Only after being reassured by the server that you can’t even tell you’re eating sweetbreads. My kind of sweetbreads.

We couldn’t resist checking on Lyra during dinner (OK, maybe we checked on the Lyft ride over too). My friend Jackie gave us this webcam that we use as a baby monitor – it’s great except everything is in Chinese. Luckily Jackie was able to set it up for me when she visited us! And we haven’t had any issues using it…until I decided to update the firmware when prompted during our dinner. Our babysitter texted me saying there were voices coming out of the webcam…in Japanese! OOPS. MY BAD. It was waking up Lyra and it wouldn’t stop saying things so she had to unplug it. #winning #wereawful

We felt really stupid. The babysitter was probably thinking who are these people? But she actually was fine. When we got home Lyra was asleep in her arms.

It was an adventurous night out! I’m sure Lyra will find it funny when she’s older.