Chef Henry saves the day.

I’ll be honest, I’ve come online to post something several times recently and every single time I’ve had to close the laptop and walk away because I had a physical reaction as I began to type. As soon as my fingers touched the keys I’d become nauseous or light-headed. Psychosomatic, much? Yeesh. Actually, the other day, even after I walked away, it took a lot of water and deep breaths to feel even a little better. Thankfully that was the day Henry took a mega epic 4 hour nap and I had time to regroup before he woke up.

So instead of talking about my dad this time, let’s just talk about fun stuff: Henry!

My kid is super into cooking/watching me cook/pretending to cook. He barely cares about cars, he’s just now kinda getting into his toy train, but his play kitchen? ALL. DAY. LONG. I pull him out of his crib in the morning, and he goes straight for it. He really likes to make me “soup.” He doesn’t say “soup” but I call it that because he just puts a little of everything into a pot and stirs. I’ll say, “Henry, can you go make mama soup?” And he’ll run in there and throw some things in the pot and bring it to me.

(Note: If you look at our YouTube channel, that is not me or my husband subscribing to Elmo or Surprise Egg channel. Henry’s latest obsession is stealing my phone and YouTubing it up in a corner. I have no idea how he finds this stuff. I swear I’ve never helped him search for anything.)

We got a learning tower for the kitchen because I could no longer carry his 27 lbs of love on my hip as I tried to prepare dinner. Next to the play kitchen, this has been the second best purchase we’ve ever made. I let him help me cook his dinner tonight, stirring the noodles and adding the vegetables (holding his hands so he didn’t accidentally touch the burner) and he ate that meal with more gusto than I’ve ever witnessed. I kept stressing to him that he made it, what a good job he did making it, etc. I’m aiming to having the next Gordon Ramsey here, guys. I love food (obviously) so if he can start taking over cooking in a few years, then yes, I will nurture this interest.

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For Halloween, we bought him an Elmo costume. He fucking hated it. I had to add that expletive in there because 1) he really fucking hated it and 2) it was a fucking waste of money. Ahem, sorry. Can you tell I’m a little annoyed by Elmo the costume right now? So I bought a chef’s play uniform. At first, he hated it. I seriously almost canceled Halloween. I was sooooooo fed up. But then, all of a sudden, he loved it! Even the hat! I tried to take it off and he made it very clear that no, he did not want me to take off the hat! I couldn’t believe it.

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He was the cutest chef ever and OMG. Once he got the hang of trick or treating, he was in his element. I thought he’d get freaked out by the crowds and going to people’s doors. NUH UH. He was as cool as a cucumber and SO HAPPY. Holding his Elmo bucket (at least we could use that) in one hand and a death grip on his Tootsie roll pop in the other, he strutted up and down those streets like a pro. This town does Halloween right. I mean, they go all out. So some houses were super crowded at the door and I’d hang back at the street while Chris took Henry up there. I would hear “Awww, what a cute little Chef! Chef Henry!” (He had a name tag that said Chef Henry). And then I’d hear from my child, “GAGAGAGAGA!” or “CACACACA!” or “YAYAYAYAY!” He likes to mix it up. Which I think is his way of saying “Thank you” or “This is awesome, I love candy.” I can’t be sure. Anyways, it was a blast.

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His talking has improved a little since then. When we were driving today, he was pointing out of the window “tee…tee” which I’m pretty sure he meant “tree” since there were some of those all around us. And I’ve been able to understand a few other words here and there too. His signing has improved and picked up drastically. Tonight I put him to bed, but he kept breaking out in nasty sounding coughs, which usually means I need to give him some albuterol. So I brought him out here with us to hang out for a little while and do his breathing treatment. After, he ran to the kitchen and signed “more crackers, thank you.” THREE signs together. That was a first. I was so proud that he took it upon himself to high-five me. HA!! My kid is cool.

We’ve been thinking a lot about baby number 2. It’ll happen (hopefully) but not for a while still, I think. I’m still not fully recovered postpartum-wise from this guy! I want to get back 100% and then see what happens. But also, this kid has been so wonderful and joyful and EASY (how many toddlers do you know that runs to the bed while laughing like a maniac when I tell him it’s nap time?) that I just know the next one will be a challenge. And that’s fine, I like challenges, but for now, I just stare in amazement at this little dude, who is growing up way too fast. I snapped this last pic in Target the other day. I actually had a list of things to get and he was so patient. I let him hold the list and I’d ask him what we needed next and he’d pretend to look at it and tell me in his language that no one but he understands. He also didn’t want to let go of the first aid kit I bought to keep in the car. The Terrrget lady had to scan it while it was still clutched in his baby death grip.

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Things are pretty bad right now, I’m not going to lie. I cry a lot. I can’t sleep. I feel like I’m failing in many ways. But that kid up there? Well that just proves that everything will be ok. That I didn’t fail at one thing. That love is all around me. My dad lives on through us.

I’m blessed.

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Three weeks.

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since my dad died and it still feels like yesterday. Maybe because there’s no funeral or memorial service until next year, so I feel sort of in limbo or something. I made tentative plans to have my own memorial service up in the Russian River Valley but I haven’t done anything toward it yet. It’s almost like I’m not really ready to say goodbye but I know I need to. Hell, I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that he is gone. That he’s ashes in an urn. It’s unreal.

I have to keep it together during the days when I’m at home with Henry. I have a kid to nurture and take care of, I can’t be falling apart. But at night, when he’s asleep and Chris is finally asleep, I break down. I have this image of my dad — I don’t even know if it’s a real memory or one I’ve created in my mind — of him standing there, greeting me. He’s in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops, his normal attire, and he’s smiling. Not a big smile, just his usual closed mouth smile. He looks younger and healthier than he did even a year before he passed, when we went to Florida to see him. And he’s just standing there. When I lose it, is when I close my eyes and imagine myself hugging him. I can feel his arm around me and I can smell him. I can smell him now as I sit and type this. I can’t describe it, but it was him.

Last week, Henry and I got sick. I got way sicker than Henry, thank god (I just don’t want another hospital stay). But I know it was from not sleeping and not taking care of myself. I know if my dad were around, he’d tell me that I need to cut the shit and sleep, eat, and get some sunshine. That it’s ok to smile and it’s ok to laugh and it’s ok to live life again. I’ll get there.

I don’t know what I would have done without my family and friends though. My brothers and my mom have been great sources of comfort, just talking to me. My husband has been very empathetic. And my friends have been INCREDIBLE. Yes, the deserve all caps. AMAZING. KIND. LOVING. AWESOME. I could go on, but I won’t. My friends and family reading this, I love you all so much. I might not have called you back or written you back yet. But I love you. And I will.

Now it’s time to try to sleep. Wish me luck.

Updates and stuff.

Sorry for the lag in posts. I don’t get on the computer very often, and when I do it’s for fun stuff like deleting 2000 spam emails and paying bills.

I recently wrote a little column for the mother’s group newsletter that does a good job of explaining my feelings toward moving here and how I deal with transitioning. I’ll post that for your enjoyment soon.

Some updates before Henry wakes up from his 9 am nap (the result of waking us up at 5 am):

  • Henry is 19 months old and stranger danger is in full effect. He dislikes most people except me at the moment and other kids at the park. I’m hoping it passes soon so I won’t feel so guilty about maybe hiring a babysitter so Chris and I can enjoy some wine in this beautiful county of Sonoma.
  • Speaking of parks, that’s what we do most days. That stretch from nap time to bed time is looooong and I like to get him good and worn out. The only downside is since school is out, a lot of day cares and summer programs hang out at the parks too so I usually single out one or two “big kids” to watch out for Henry since he insists on climbing the jungle gym solo while other, larger, wilder children are jumping around on it. Not good for my nerves, at all. So far, it’s been alright though. 
  • I’ve made a couple friends and Henry’s had several play dates. I’ve already seen a change in how he plays and interacts with us, and I have a couple friends now, so it’s positivity all around in that regard.
  • I am very, very homesick. That will probably never change. 
  • Still homesick, but very happy we moved here if we had to move anywhere. I love the people, the scenery, the food, the atmosphere, the farmer’s markets, the proximity to San Francisco, all of it. It’s great. 
  • There is more that I can’t think of right now (got awoken at 5 am, remember?) I promise I will start writing with more substance. Someday. Here are some Henry play time pics to make up for it.

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Play dates, Alicia Keys, and Xannies.

I did it. I went on the play date. And it was awesome. The woman I met was super cool and we had a ton in common. We’ll be meeting up again on Monday, and I’m looking forward to it. Henry doesn’t care either way, but I’m sure he will be excited to play with some new toys.

I am officially a member of the Mother’s Club so I’m going to start flashing that card around and getting discounts on some baby music and tumble classes. Henry LOVES music. I know all toddlers do, but do all toddlers stop whatever they’re doing/playing with when a song comes on and run into the other room to listen? I don’t know. Maybe. I’m not a toddler expert. But he does and it’s really cute. When he was 6 or 7 months old, I used to play this song for him in the car on repeat because it was the only thing that soothed him. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that his favorite thing to do now is steal my iPhone and navigate his way to this video:

(Before you ask, it’s a video that came with the album download and also, this is not the exact video, but almost identical. Funnily enough, there’s another AK video on there he watches a lot too. What can I say? Cultured.)

After the opening piano segment, he rewinds. And rewinds. And rewinds. I really want to foster this love of music and piano and get him in some toddler music classes, which he did a little of back in ABQ and had fun but I think he’d get more out of it at this age.

I was messaging a friend today that I was a little worried about Henry because he’s such a calm, mellow kid who prefers to sit and read books or play on the floor as opposed to running around like a maniac, which I assumed all toddlers did. I could feel her silent judgement through the phone as a I typed and then just felt stupid. What kind of weirdo worries about that? I’m seriously considering getting on a low dose of xannies because I get anxiety over every. stupid. thing. these days.

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This face!

Time to go binge watch Orange is the New Black while Henry naps. Enjoy your weekend, y’all.

On the up & up.

It’s amazing to me how getting thrown out of my comfort zone in every single way has actually been good for me. Who would have thought? (Almost everyone you ever hear talk about comfort zones and getting out of them).

Anyway, after a weekend of exploring this truly gorgeous, fabulous area (Sonoma County, Google it) I am feeling so much better about life here. We drove through vineyards and around curving hills where the grass flows in the breeze and cows are lazing around and sheep frolicking. We drove up the Sonoma coast and along the Russian River Valley through the Redwoods. We made plans for the future and talked and laughed and spent time with our son as a family. It’s what I needed in a big way.

sonomacoastIt was cold and I forgot his jacket. He was not thrilled.

I signed up for the mother’s group here in town today. I already have a play date for next week with a mom who has a son the same age (and nap schedule) as Henry. By the way, if you don’t have kids yet, the nap schedule always comes up in conversation when making plans unless you are one of those people with children who don’t have a nap schedule and are totally fine if no nap is had. In that case, shut it. My son runs to the bedroom door with his blanket and pacifier at nap time and giggles as I put him into bed, sooooo it’s kinda important we don’t mess that up. So I’m excited and nervous for the play date. Like I said, this stuff is out of my zone de comfort, but I know that’s what I need right now to make the changes that are needed. Like friendships and a social life, for instance.

For the most part, I’m feeling good about life here in the Bay Area and the future. It’s taking me back to my previous life in Los Angeles where despite not really enjoying living there, I felt like opportunity was abound. I have that same feeling here, but with much nicer people and a greater sense of community. Also, they celebrate something called Butter and Egg Day here SO THAT CAN ONLY BE GOOD. All caps.

So yeah. Things are looking up.

 

 

Getting out there.

Henry slept like crap last night (I honestly think he ate way too many bell peppers and they gave him indigestion. Remind me to write another post about how much my kid loves bell peppers). So after his 2.5 hour long nap today, we decided to get out of the house as a family. The farmers’ market started today and I really wanted to get some local honey and spices. So we get downtown and it’s super packed. Like, not the market, but the streets. Turns out there was a car show to commemorate American Grafitti, which was filmed here, at least partially. It took us for-ev-er to find a parking spot and I almost ALMOST told Chris to just give up and go home. My stomach was kinda hurting anyway. But then someone pulled out of a spot in front of us and in Chris went. I didn’t mention to him that my stomach was hurting.

I’ve been having stomach issues since
Henry was born. I’ve seen a doctor and was told it was hormonal, but Henry is now almost 17 months old (tomorrow), soooooo I dunno. Part of me fears it’s related to the c-section. But what’s crazy is since we moved here, I haven’t had any issues. Not one. I was thinking about that this morning, and then as soon as we are walking through a crowd of 1,000 people, it acts up. So yeah, it was miserable at first but thanks to a kind young man at 7-11 who let me use their employee bathroom (which looked like a prison toilet) all was ok and I was glad I didn’t bail.

There’s a few things I know about this town:

1) There’s a nice Target nearby
2) There’s a nice Safeway nearby
3) Construction on the 101 can be heard very loudly during nap time (we are not that close to the freeway either)
4) From what I’ve seen, it’s beautiful
5) Everyone I’ve met has been super nice.

EVERYONE in this town is so nice! It almost throws me. Like, I can’t be anti-social here. People just come up and talk to me. They genuinely want to know about me, this new person in town they’ve never seen with the cute baby. They all tell me I have a cute baby! Even moms with their own cute babies! It’s weird and great. If for no other reason, I’m glad we got out and talked to people.

So. I think I’m gonna like this place. At least, I’m feeling more confident about it today and hopefully even more tomorrow. I just need to muster the courage to get out there on my own without the comfort of having Chris standing next to me. He’s super outgoing and that makes it easier to strike up conversations.

You can see a pic of Henry on the swing at the Farmers’ Market in Instagram link on the side bar. Follow me on there too, if you want, PS.

Ok, here’s another swing photo:

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A little bit of whine in wine country.

I have written several posts since arriving in California, and I end up typing a looooong diatribe of nonsense and whining and I scrap it.

There is so much good in my life but I’m having a really hard time getting over the homesickness and worry. I think that’s just part of my personality. I will always and forever be worried about money and always and forever miss something and/or someone. Anxious and nostalgic, that sums me up. Sounds like a party to be around, right? I’m sure Chris just loves coming home to this mess every night (he’s very sweet to me).

I miss my mom. I miss my friends. I miss everything. I’m super lonely. But here’s the thing that’s been getting me lately: I’m INCREDIBLY SUPER DUPER LUCKY. I have a healthy, happy, funny, amazing toddler who is my world. I’m blessed enough that I get to stay home with him every day. Sure, money is tight. Like, stretched to the penny, but we make it work. What set off a panic attack tonight was getting health insurance for myself and Henry (Chris’s is 100% paid through his new job — again, grateful). But just looking in our already tight budget and trying to fit that extra necessary expense is stressful.

So anyway, this town is beautiful and I love it. I just need to put on my big girl panties and get out there and discover more of it. I’ll get on that after just a little more wallowing, ok?

In the meantime, here’s a little bit of what everyone comes here for, pics of the kid and other misc. I promise I’ll get back to normal soon.

BiscottiSharing some really great biscotti with chocolate mousse and hazelnut whipped cream with daddy. My inlaws took us to a great little italian place for Mother’s Day.

MD FlowersMother’s Day flowers. Our allergies have been going insane but they’re too pretty to throw away yet.

CarouselCan you see us? Henry looks unimpressed, but lemme tell you, the kid had a blast. There were very vocal protests when it was time to get off. This was at Pier 39 in San Francisco.

mmmm yeahYESSSSS!!!!

mom san franLunch with a view. I miss my mom.

Henry ThroneHenry on his new couch. Yes, his. We’re allowed to sit on it sometimes (like when he’s asleep).

Henry SlidingMy big boy. 

 

California living.

We’re here. Our new home just north of  San Francisco. If I’m totally honest, I kinda like it here. The area is beautiful, the people are great, and our little apartment is really cute. But…it’s not home home. It’s lacking things like my mom, my friends, my job, green chile, etc etc. I am giving myself a couple more days to mope and then I’m pulling up the big girl panties and moving on.

Wanna hear about the 1,100 mile road trip with a toddler? It was actually ok. So here’s what you need: an iPad or DVD player (we had an iPad); snacks; sippy cups; books; my iPhone; and another pair of hands (aka my mom). For serious, if my mom hadn’t come, I would have been screwed. Majorly. She reset the Daniel Tiger episodes on the iPad, handed out snacks, sang him songs…you get the picture. And if you have hang ups about your kids watching TV, you will get over that hang up about 2 minutes into a late-April snow/ice storm in Northern Arizona. That damn Tiger possibly quite literally saved our lives. I love the child more than life itself but that high-pitched scream he belts out when he wants something is enough to fray even the steeliest of nerves.

Another thing that made it doable was stopping every evening for the night. My preferred method of travel is usually “get in the car and don’t stop until you need gas.” That’s just not feasible when you have a toddler who loves his routine. Speaking of which, he stayed on his nap schedule in the car. Fell asleep at nap time, awake for the rest of the day until bed time. Henry even took to his time zone like a champ. I am lucky that he’s transitioned seamlessly into his new California life. I was dreading the long nights and messed up schedules, but nah, it’s the same (if not a little better, really).

On Sunday, we drove the half hour to the City. The trip brought back all of those feelings of love I have for San Francisco. It’s an amazing place. But it felt surreal that I wouldn’t be going home with my mom, back to New Mexico. I know I’ll get used to it soon and I really am excited for all of the fun stuff we are going to do as a family here. Really, I am. Lucky you will get to read all about them, too!

My mom stayed until yesterday. She helped me unpack and organize our apartment as well as teach her culinary-challenged daughter a few easy recipes. Dropping her off at the airport yesterday was SO SAD. I basically moped around feeling sorry for myself for the rest of the day. It’s kinda pretty pathetic. But driving over the Golden Gate Bridge twice on the way and way back was pretty awesome. And coming over the hills into Marin and Sonoma Counties is really spectacular, too. Imagine lots of green, rolling hills and cows. And some trees. I’m an awful writer, but believe me, it’s really pretty.

Now, I’ve got my laptop set up at the dining room table, all ready to get to work tomorrow. My awesome boss/friend Derek has let me continue my employment from home, which is good because babysitters. We don’t have ’em.

There are pictures, but I am too tired to get them on this computer tonight. Don’t panic though, I’ll be back with lots and lots of pics soon. I am sure you were just rife with worry until I reassured you. (smiley face) Also, sorry for the jumbled thoughts. I’ll try to get my act together quickly.

Goodnight!

Tonight is rough.

A week and some change before we hit the road. I’m starting to feel anxious and nervous and excited and terrified. Part of me wants to get there and get settled in already, but the other part of me wants to slow down time. I’m just not quite ready to say goodbye. I don’t like that I’m texting my best friend telling her I want to see her just one more time before we leave. There’s also this nagging feeling that I’m leaving unfinished business behind. But that business wants nothing to do with me as far as I can tell, so it’s probably best I leave that in the rear view, however difficult that might be.

But let’s talk about happier things: Henry. OMG you guys, this kid is growing up fast. I know he’s just your average 16 month old (tomorrow) but he’s amazing to me.

The kid is so well behaved in public. The tantrums he throws at home are epic, but in public he’s an angel. He holds my hand, minds me when I say “don’t touch that” or “put that back”, and he’s so patient. We went to the bookstore, just the two of us, last weekend and he stood there in line with me, holding my hand for a good 10 minutes while a chatty German woman checked out. I was honestly shocked.

Ok he’s not always an angel in public. When it’s nap time and I won’t let him dump the salt shaker all over the table in a restaurant…yeah that’s our cue to exit swiftly.

Honestly though, I love these toddler times, tantrums and all. He’s starting to become a little kid with a personality. He loves his shoes and would wear them all day and night if I let him. Daniel Tiger is still his BFF. He is a pro at navigating the iPad and taking lots of (mostly black) photos and some pretty cool videos, really. He likes to grab a book and sit on his Sesame Street chair. I bought him a back pack and it’s his new favorite thing. I could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore you. I’ll leave you with some pics of my growing little boy.

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I love you first, New Mexico.

I love New Mexico. I’m a New Mexico girl deep down. I wasn’t born here and I wasn’t raised here, but I spent my childhood summers here with my cousins and became a grown up here. My first apartment was in Albuquerque. I graduated from the University of New Mexico, so just imagine all of the firsts that had to offer. Hint: a lot. Before I moved to LA, I applied to every journalism job in the state (I was later offered one, but that was months after I moved and living with my now-husband). That just wasn’t a great time to be working in journalism and jobs were scarce everywhere.

But in the four years I lived in LA, I was miserably homesick for New Mexico. I hear that happens to most people who leave the state. There wasn’t just one thing I missed, there were countless things: food, friends, family, the smell when it rains, on and on and on. I was ecstatic to be able to move back here in 2010, where even more firsts occurred. Over the course of the few years we’ve been back, I’ve gotten married, adopted a dog, had a baby, made some new friends, lost friends, and I’ve changed (for the better, I think, although I am sure some people would disagree).

The Pacific Ocean is calling me back again, against my will, but I’m heeding its call for my husband. He sacrificed a lot to move here for me and it’s time to return the favor. And even though Albuquerque is in the midst of turmoil right now, I’m still going to miss it like crazy and only hope that one day I can experience some more firsts here.

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The Sandias, another thing I’ll miss dearly. Photo courtesy of moi.