My Grandmas & Me

Sometimes in a tough moment, or just because, I close my eyes and talk to my angel grandparents. This week in particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmothers; Grandma Joan and Nana.

When I think about these amazing women, the picture I always have in my head is of them hugging me. I can visualize their unique embrace.  I think about the way they hugged me, their scent and how their kisses felt on my cheek.

My Nana was a spunky 5’ nothing Italian lady, who always held a rosary in one hand and my Nonno’s hand in the other. She would flit around like a tiny fairy, sprinkling holy water on anything and anyone. She made the best homemade pizza. Food was her love language and thankfully she passed that onto my mom. She had a beautiful, but also tough life, and in her last years, constantly surprised us with her strength and nine-lives. Her body may have been frail, but she had the fight of a lion.

My Nana would reach out to us and gently grab our face for a kiss with her tiny, arthritic hands. She had the prickliest kisses from her tiny chin hairs, but they were full of unconditional love.  She used to say “feel my hugs” whenever we were away from her.

My Grandma Joan was magnetic, the life of the party in every sense. She whistled like a freight train when she needed to get everyone’s attention.  My Grandma had 6 kids and 15 grandkids, and somehow, each of us thought we had the “special” relationship with her. She once drove with the 16-year-old-me to Santa Barbara to visit my sister at UCSB. I was flying down the 101 freeway going 85 and instead of yelling, “Jesus take the wheel!”, she just smiled and said, “I trust you!”.

My Grandma gave expansive, firm hugs, tucking us tight into her chest. I envision her gold heart locket resting against the creases on her chest that represent years of love and hard work. She would reach her hands straight out for us to dive into. She smelled like “her” perfume and I imagine her always wearing a peach colored shirt with peach colored toe nail polish.

These women were strong in such unique ways. My nana was unassuming, sweet and mighty. My grandma; boisterous, kind and confident.

Sometimes as a mom, wife, colleague, friend, sister and daughter; I feel absolutely spent. Like I’m living on my edge all day and have nothing extra to give, especially to myself. Come 3pm, my brain fog is equal to San Francisco in June.

When I think about these two women filling up my spirit and standing by my side, I get an extra jolt. In my moments of self doubt, not only do I have their spirit by my side, I am literally a part of them. I came from them.

I will always feel their hugs; they are closer to me everyday than they’ve ever been before.


Mother’s Day Matters

Yesterday was my very first Mother’s Day.

I had been so looking forward to this celebration, yet I felt a low level sense of disappointment all day. 

When Maisley was two months old, I remember thinking how much I would enjoy the sh** out of Mother’s Day this year. I remember in a breaking point, thinking, this is why mothers have a whole day dedicated to themselves (and Father’s too!). I felt like all of the thankless tasks that no one sees, the late nights and early mornings, the hard work, the constant worry; that it would somehow all be appreciated and valued in this one day.

That’s a lot for one day to live up to.

When I reflect back on yesterday, the bookends of the day taught me all that really matter.  

[And sometimes as a mom, the bookends are my saving grace. A day of crying where nothing goes right, is righted with a sweet nighttime feed, prayers and Goodnight Gorilla.]

Maisley woke up at 6am and then after a quick snack, fell back to sleep on my chest, like she had done so many times in her early weeks of life. I watched her breathe up and down, her little lips slightly open, her sweet face peaceful and at home.

Later that night, my husband and I got into bed around 9pm (the usual).  On my pillow was a letter that he wrote to Maisley, filled with generous amounts of praise and gratitude for me as her mom and his wife. He beautifully wrote:

“Being a mom isn’t the easiest thing. You’ll find that out one day. But your mom is a natural and was meant to be a mom. She has sacrificed so much over the last year; her professional work, sleep, her body, the list goes on. But she will be the first to tell you it’s all worth it, and then some! We take our moms for granted sometimes. It can be easier to do that than you think; especially since they are unwavering in their love and support. After a while, you can come to expect it. But I hope you always understand, Maisley, how much your mom has done, is doing and will forever do for you. It’s not because she has to or  because it’s her responsibility. She does it because YOU changed her (our) life forever! You gave her the best gift she could ever ask for, and one she has waited her whole life for: to be a mom, to be YOUR mom!”

As I sat in our bed, sobbing, reading the letter over and over again, I was angry at myself for feeling even remotely disappointed.  Because the satisfaction alone of her existing, and my husband for his constant love and support, is enough to make it all worth it. No one day was ever going to touch that.

I realized that Mother’s Day isn’t really about, “what are you doing for me”? But rather embracing a grateful heart to Maisley for making me her mom. I get to wake up and be her mom everyday; that really is the greatest gift.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyday Mamas.




Sleep + Springtime

I miss her when she sleeps. 

Almost every night before I close my eyes, I lay under the covers with my iPhone in night mode and scroll through the thousands of images and videos of my happy girl. The trips we’ve taken, the simple moments at home, family love fests, her first this and that, smiles with dada.

The sleep deprived “me” of two months ago is rolling her eyes like I’m that mom.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m elated that she’s finally sleeping through the night. I did an invisible front-flip-back-handspring when I woke up after seven hours of uninterrupted snoozing.

I just feel this little tug of “something’s missing” whenever I’m not next to her. Will I feel this way forever? Is that why moms are so sad when their children go off to college? Now I’m really sad, why did I just go there?

In other news, spring is in the air and my excitement to travel and explore is in overdrive.

As soon as March hits, like clockwork, I suddenly and impulsively find myself booking trips. Almost like an addiction, I get this high knowing I’ll rekindle with my vacation-self soon.

Traveling with Maisley is different, but also has a new level of enjoyment (like most things in motherhood).  She got her wings at three months old on a trip to Seattle. I fed her on the way up and down, otherwise she slept most of the time.

I think our upcoming trips to Portland and San Francisco will be easier and harder in different ways. Easier because she’s more of a human at 8 months, and harder because I literally don’t think she fits into her “nimble nook” Pack ‘n Play anymore.

Regardless of the challenges, I’m actively committed to soaking up every minute with Maisley.

Because in a few fast months, the images from these trips will too become part of the memory montage on my dimmed iPhone screen.

P.S. I thought sleeping through the night would significantly help with my mental clarity throughout the day. However, yesterday, when I was trying to pay our gas bill online, my credit card wouldn’t work. I tried four times and then called my husband in frustration. Turns out I was inputting our zip code from 2012.

Maybe mom brain is permanent and the lack of sleep was just a good excuse.

A Little Baby Tooth

Maisley has managed to sprout not one, but two baby teeth in the last month.

I can’t even explain my excitement when that first tooth popped through. More than rolling over. More than her first bite of avocado. Even more than crawling.

“Ryan, can you see it?!”

“No seriously, come feel it, it’s so sharp, it’s right there!”

For some reason, her first tooth has been the most exciting milestone to me. Something about it feels monumental.

This tooth will be part of her smile that so brightly lights up any room we enter. She will go to preschool with this tooth. She will bite into a juicy strawberry and a seed will get stuck in this tooth.

Her personality seems more gritty with a tooth. Her gums are punctuated with these little bits of spunk. It matches her wild and roaring nature.

One day she’s going to wriggle that baby tooth loose, and it’s going to fall out, only to be replaced by a larger, more mature tooth. I’m not sure the going rate, but it’s got to be worth close to a dollar by the time the tooth fairy gets a hand on it.

Our little baby’s teeth are growing in. She’s growing up. I can’t stop it, so I’ll just get weirdly excited about it.


(Unfortunatly you can’t see teeth in this picture because she won’t let me show them.)

Ideas & Daydreams

I felt a breeze of Australia today. I was putting Maisley in her car seat and out of nowhere this rush of air came through me like a whisper on a whim.

The sun, a smell, the air.

It was transporting and invigorating. It filled up my wanderlust tank in a split second. It was Australia, in Carlsbad. I felt it.

Australia is my daydreamer’s paradise. The place she goes while sitting in traffic or on a walk with Maisley. Specific spots all around the city come flooding into her: Watson’s bay, the coastal walk, Lord Nelson’s Brewery.

Sometimes I think those rush of beautiful memories are more divine than just a daydream.  As if they come straight from the Mother Nature and God collective. Those two creators sit amongst the stars, gleefully sending us beautiful signs of wonder right in front of us, and wonder we once knew.

I asked my beautifully creative photographer friend how ideas come to her. Are they abstract? Concrete? Do they come in color, words, images?

She told me that she writes in her morning pages every single day. While most of it is just stream of consciousness, she finds gems of ideas hidden in the words. She allows herself time to daydream so that she can create and experiment with original ideas, not just those she sees on Pinterest or Instagram. And she travels. Whoa does she travel.

She then returned the question.

An idea or thought typically comes into my mind either from something someone said, or a little pop from another train of thought. It floats around the chatter of my mind for a few days.

From the front, to the back, to the front again. It persists. Sometimes it bothers me.

A few other ideas begin circulating.

Then, without warning, a bigger idea comes into the flow. I call this thought, “the closer”. It comes in hot. It’s an idea that somehow makes the other ideas fit into a story or narrative. Then I write without hesitation. With freedom and ferocity.

Whatever the source, I’m just happy to get a breath of my soul place and a visit from creativity every now and again.

The Motherhood

Before August 16th, 2016, I thought motherhood was a phase that women entered; a personal journey. I thought it was the experience of becoming and being a mother.

{The only thing I really had to compare it to was the journey of entering “womanhood” at age 13 and the cringe-worthy feeling of telling my mom I got my period through the closed bathroom door, only to be met with the over zealous words, “You’re becoming a woman!”. It makes me die in awkward self-consciousness just thinking about it. Going through puberty was a vastly personal and solo journey, with the occasional tip or two from a sister or friend.}

Since August 16, 2016, I have come to understand motherhood in a different, surprising way. While I have certainly entered into a new dimension, the journey has been one of community, collaboration, and support.

I had no idea it was something I would become a part of.

A Motherhood.

I feel as though I have joined a secret club that I never knew I wanted to be a part of, but deeply needed. A true sense of belonging, sealed with the stamp of labor, surrogacy, adoption or any other means.

Other moms, young and old, look at me with compassionate eyes and unconditional respect, as though I’ve arrived. Their expression says, “I get it”.

I’ve been welcomed at mommy and me classes, mom and baby yoga, and lactation support groups. We’ve followed blogs written with raw authenticity and joined Facebook advice groups.

A whole network of moms. Moms who have my back. Moms who have stood where I stand.

At the edge of a bassinet in tears at three in the morning.
In shoes I’m not sure how to fill.
On the rug doing jumping jacks for the chance of a rewarding giggle.
In the bar at a bachelorette party, pumping and dumping.

However you got there, wherever you live, whoever you are; thank you to all moms in the motherhood.  

Thank you for your hard work, your unspoken love, and our unbreakable bond.


Before You; Us

Dear Bean,

I love your Dad with all my heart. It’s so important for you to know that.

Before you so perfectly came into our lives, we dated.

We met in high school, but always stayed in the “friend zone” {even though I totally had a crush on him}. Like a true friend and gentleman, he always held the door open, carried my bags, sang silly TV jingles at school lunches with me and engaged in meaningful conversations.

We fell in love almost immediately when we reconnected a few months after college ended. It was a serendipitous moment of professing our feelings to each other, after all those years of innocent friendship. Sunset Cliffs in San Diego became our “spot” where we shared deep conversations, exposed our fears and expressed our unending devotion and love for one another.

Although we were not immune to the ups and downs of the early-20’s-dating-finding yourself-rollercoaster, we never stopped loving each other and never will.

I knew deep down that your dad was the person I wanted to marry for a long time. When my mind had finally caught up to my heart, and he popped the question, “yes” was the only answer. He told me, “You will never know how much I love you”. Everyday it becomes more and more clear why he is my husband and your dad.

He is a man who is true to his word, always remaining faithful, selfless in his actions. Loyalty runs deep in his bones. He questions the norm, is open minded, always understanding and never judgmental. His peaceful exterior is wrapped in depth and complexity. Equally goofy as he is respectful and kind. He knows how to bring me perspective and make the sky blue on a cloudy day. He never stops working hard for us, for our lifestyle and for our happiness. Family is everything to him. He is a walking paradox who wants to travel the earth but also put down roots – a sentiment we both share deeply. He is more creative than he will ever admit; in his thoughts, ideas, philosophies and writing. He is a storyteller.

He loved you when you were only a dream. He loves you in the comfort of my belly; kissing you, telling you he loves you and that you are appreciated and wanted. He holds you and fist bumps you back. And he will continue to love you every second of your life.

You are the most important thing in the world to us, and we are also the most important thing in the world to each other. We are a family, fit like a puzzle, divinely created for intense love, exploration, laughter and personal growth.

I can’t wait for the day, when you are old enough to start dating (at age 21?), and you find your person, like me and dad found each other.

You will never know how much I love you, and Dad.

I am so happy you are part of our love story.