The Bookshelf

It was 9:30 at night. My insane need to nest, coupled with my husband leaving for eight days on a work trip (three days after our big move), had me a little furniture assembly happy.

I’d been staring at that white kids bookshelf online for two weeks before I purchased it, so when it finally arrived, I was beyond ready to bring my kids corner vision to life.

The directions read: one hour assembly time. We both laughed thinking we were smarter than everyone else who sets up furniture. There was no way it would take that long. Half way up and an hour in, my husband muttered under his breath, “I think a divorce attorney designed this damn bookshelf”.

We’ve had a few days like that in the new house, where nothing can go right. Hanging a bookshelf feels like attempting to summit Everest and drywall is public enemy no. 1 (second to my husband). 

We’ve also had a few days where everything goes right. The new rug matches perfectly, our front porch swing serves as a happy waiting place for Nonni to arrive, and we share a special quiet moment with all three of us laying in bed, looking up at the new walls that will hold our memories over the next years and welcome us into a family of four (five including Sammie pup).

Every time we pull into the driveway Maisley exclaims, “new house!”, in her high pitched voice that almost has a hint of a dutch accent.  She has embraced her new space without an ounce of reservation. She runs around outside in the backyard any chance she gets, two continual stubbed toes to prove it.

While I had laid awake the first night in our new house clinging to my emotional baggage about change and the move, she slept soundly and innocently. I want to be more like her in this new phase of life.

Worrying less about the bookshelf (which will probably become a pile of broken wood after two kids use it as a jungle gym), and more about running freely, living for the things in life that make us feel good; swinging, playing, drawing, reading and giggling.

Pic cred: Jordan “Gigi”, Nanny & BFF

New Home // Home Birth

I strolled into Home Depot with my checklist scribbled into the notes section of my iPhone. Maisley sat in the front of the cart, casually along for the ride and intentionally preoccupied by her Trader Joes cheddar rocket snacks.

I’m never above asking for help in that giant store, so I flagged down the first orange vest in site. “Excuse me. Are you able to tell me where I can find a cheap garden hose, a sprocket to attach the hose to a bathroom sink, large storage bins and two smoke detectors?” I asked casually, without explaining why.

I felt like I was plotting for something big. Like I was an incognito, athleisure-wearing, mom-version of Walter White from Breaking Bad gathering supplies for some illegal debauchery.

Substitute the meth for some oxytocin, and our new home and home birth prep was underway.

The Home Part

After a year of searching, the magical combo finally struck at week 32 of pregnancy number two – we fell in love with a new home and our offer was accepted. A home still in San Diego county, but just far enough away to bring out waves of that uncomfortable feeling that happens with big changes or when you’re just about to take off on an airplane to somewhere unknown. A new grocery story, new network of friends and new everyday life.

Maisley will finally have walls on her room and Ryan and I won’t have to use our bluetooth headphones to watch TV together at night. We will have a backyard where our kids can expel their endless energy and most importantly, our own mailbox in which I can paint in any way I please (a dream I have always had). 

Despite everything that feels right about our new home, it feels bittersweet to leave our town home – the first home we bought together and the only one Maisley has ever known. It’s only been three years, but three big years of growth and change from newlyweds to parents of almost two.

Nestled into the middle of my third trimester, I think I’ve actually been relatively useful during the moving process. My pointer finger is stronger than ever and new directives are popping into my vocabulary everyday. Only time will tell if I am still married after our move-in date and furniture assembly. 

The Birth Part

Nothing like welcoming ourselves to a new neighborhood with a home birth. Placenta cookies anyone?

After having an unmedicated hospital birth with Maisley, our first daughter, I was pretty set on trying for a similar process with our next daughter, “sissy” (despite the intense memories of labor that still make my stomach churn with anxious butterflies).  But a planned home birth was never really in the plans. It always seemed a little too “crunchy” and out there. Was it even safe?

As it turns out, choosing to do a home birth wasn’t really something I chose. It was a feeling, an inkling, a deep sense of curiosity that slowly bubbled to the surface during my first few weeks of pregnancy. I think she chose it.

We went about the process of interviewing midwives to educate ourselves and see if this new type of care felt right. We found someone that we loved and were 90% certain about our decision – the last 10% was made on a leap and a prayer.

This new form of prenatal care has been empowering, informative and full of research.  Everyday fluctuates between excitement and fear about sissy’s birth, but I can’t wait to hold her and see how her birth day will unfold.  

Ryan will be the tub setter-upper. A lot of people ask about the tub. Will she be born in the water? Where will it go? Does it have a recirc pump to keep the water warm? (per my handy-man Uncle). If I’m feeling it in the moment, master bedroom and yes.

While I’m overwhelmed and sometimes panicked about the weeks ahead, my gratitude level is simultaneously peaking. Change has a special way of making me feel alive.

That and boxes. So many boxes, which unlike birth, won’t be spontaneously unfolding on their own. 


Who Am I Really?

:: I sometimes feel like I am so busy pursuing everyone else’s vision of success, creativity or happiness that I’ve lost sight of what my own soul is truly after. ::

Two weeks ago, in the Redwoods of Santa Cruz, I found myself in a room next to 200 other people, hanging on the words of renowned life coach, Martha Beck. I was exactly where I didn’t know I needed to be. The topic of this retreat was about returning to your essential self. Breaking through fear, trauma and past socialization to get back to who you really are.

A quest I have been pursuing for many years now (probably since my awkward middle school encounters of bullying and unbearable self-consciousness) that has come with many highs and lows, like any great adventure.

People, stories and moments keep popping up to remind me of this quest. To keep pushing me toward integrity and to make decisions – big and small – that are true to who I really am. As a dedicated people pleaser, this is the hardest thing for me to do.

But nothing excites and motivates me more than a life where I’m living each day as myself. I’m slowly getting closer. For me, for God, my daughters, my family and my true purpose.

I found this poem I wrote a few years ago about the quest.  Another reminder, I’m exactly where I need to be. 

Who are you and why do I care about what you think?
What is it about you that makes me stop and introspect to the point of self defeat?
Or maybe it isn’t really you after all.
Maybe it’s me;
the person I am trying to be.
Sealed shut, locked away.
Aiming to please when discomfort strikes,
but I have so much more to say.
I care too much about what people think,
but mostly the people I don’t care about, what they think.
Do I look ok? Will what I say offend you? Am I funny enough? Unique enough? Am I intelligent enough? Am I enough?
Quiet careful mind, and let me say what I think.
Raw and naked, no filter.
No judgements, please.

A quick look back, before leaping forward

As Ryan and I sit here on the first day of 2018, my first thought is to recap and remember the past 365 days, before I jump into another whirlwind around the sun.

Our new tradition is to write down highlights of the year, so that in 10 years, 2017 doesn’t become a lost year of early parenthood fog. 2017 was a year to remember. Aren’t they all?

Maisley was the biggest single memory of our year. Watching this tiny human grow into a toddler who says, “bleshu”, “hi thilly” and her name, “Mayshey”, has been equal parts magical, challenging and unpredictable.

Two years of marriage to a man who defines the word selfless and loves unconditionally. Maisley was baptized surrounded by all of her family. We received the phone call you never want to receive, Michelle (sister) was in a bad car accident, but she was okay (thank you God). A bachelorette party in Austin. My best friend Lauren married her true perfect match.  Michelle lived with us for five months, during which I rarely unloaded the dishwasher and cherished having another “mom” and best friend in the house.

Ryan got the shingles. Maisley got the chicken pox (thanks Dad!). Rode the wave of postpartum with downs that would catch me surprise and take me down to crazy town.  A trip to San Francisco with Ryan, Maiz, Lindsey, Michelle & Brandino to explore and visit Lucy. Maisley turned one with the perfect Luau Beach Bash celebration. A camping adventure in San Clemente with little sleep, but lots of connection. Our first true family vacation to Napili Bay in Maui; seven days of bliss. The last day of breastfeeding Maisley and feeling life and energy rush back into my body. Freelance writing with the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Concerts in the park, farmers markets, swim lessons, music class, gymboree, library days. Playdates with Maisley’s favorite “Cousin T”. New friendships grew, connections with old friends ebbed and flowed. Jordan became our nanny and subsequently a soul sister and part of our family. Lindsey said “yes” to Brandino’s proposal of forever and made us all the happiest sisters in the world.

Countless conversations about anxiety and mental health.

Maisley’s first In-N-Out burger.

The 2nd annual Christmas kick-back.

Chicago with Ryan.

Santa brought a ball pit.

Another baby girl, a sister, ready to make her debut in a six short months.

What a year. 

My intention for the new year is to live with more intention and purpose every day. Less zoning out on social media and more waking up early to meditate, pray and write. Days full of clarity and presence.

And to keep my car clean.

Holiday Overflow

This week has been overflowing. A festive clutter of new toys and old, miniature body balms, and stubborn dead pines dusting the corners of the floor.

Things have been sitting undone for much longer than I intend. A messy car, the clean dishes on the drying rack begging to go home, and a laundry basket that doubles as a dresser. I haven’t taken the time for yoga or meditation. “Me” time has been spent on presents or planning or something that hasn’t fed my soul.

All the remnants of a season well lived and an emotional tank so fully empty, that I can’t quite take a deep breath.

The season has been beautiful, but something was missing. I was missing. Stuck somewhere between the pomp and circumstance of Christmas present.

I can’t quite pinpoint it, but it had to do with the overflow. Overtired, over pleasing, over driving, over committing.

With both of our families just an hours drive away, we were bouncing around during the week. Christmas eve there, back here for Christmas morning, Christmas day back up there. We truly enjoyed spending time with our families, who we couldn’t live without, but it never quite felt like we were able to create meaningful connections between just the three of us. Our family. A growing house that deserves traditions and memories of their own.

We did a gender reveal on the night before Christmas and when the tree lit bright with pink, my eyes saw what my heart already knew. Another girl. I felt like I had peaked at my biggest present under the tree before Christmas morning. A secret I shouldn’t know quite yet.

Two daughters. Sisters. What a gift. 

Ryan has been thinking out loud about how he can be a good dad to two daughters. Today he decided to raise girls who “will break your son’s heart”. The girl who doesn’t need a man for self assurance and will run confidently in the direction of her dreams.

The holidays are a work in progress. As are my 2018 goals. I mostly intend to create days overflowing with purpose.

Baby Two: Keeping it Real

I haven’t written in a while. Mostly because I’ve been spending my “free time” trying to escape my first trimester nausea reality, by replacing it with other realities, like Suits.  It’s been challenging to remain fully present, and enjoy the recent holidays and happenings when so much of my mind is occupied with baby two.

The only moment of clarity I can count on happens before I even open my eyes in the morning; a quick prayer of gratitude and acknowledgement for this new life growing in my now apple shaped uterus.  

I’m slowly starting to come out of the fog.  Emerging more pregnant, and with a far greater enthusiasm for household activities and holiday adventures than I can actually handle.  

While I’ve been here before, baby two feels different; a whole new person, a new family dynamic and unique emotions.  There are feelings of reluctance, “Here we go again….”, but also endless gratitude, “Here we go again!”

My diet is mostly one of gluten and meat. I think my husband was filled with more joy when I told him I was craving In n’ Out, than he was on the day we said, “I do!”.

I was number two in my sister lineup of four girls. And now I’m having my second. Something feels special about this one. 

But number one Maisley surprises me every day. Sometimes I get overwhelmingly sad that our time with just us is limited. My nanny recently likened her to a porcupine; cute as shit, cuddly, and wonderful, but just a little pokey sometimes.

Today is my 31st birthday and as I pulled her from the crib with arms stretched high, into my own, she squealed in delight like a true morning person.

I immediately had the thought that one day, I wouldn’t be able to pick her up with such ease, or maybe at all. And I held her closer than usual, rocking back and forth.

In that moment, she landed not one, but two unsolicited mouth kisses coupled with her signature sound effect, “mmmaaahhh”.  From the girl who holds her cards close, those kisses were like winning the lottery.

I worry with each baby that I will lose more and more of myself. But so far, I’ve only gained; more perspective, more love, and more insight into who I am.

That’s a reality I want to keep living in.


A Saturday Soul Party

Soul party; a gathering of likeminded women talking about real shit.

I had a few friends ask me what I did on Saturday. I was struggling to articulate the life and career coaching/personal development retreat I had experienced.

Was it like a church retreat? They asked.
Oh, a writing retreat?
A women’s retreat?

It wasn’t until a few days later that I realized what Saturday was.

It was a soul party.

Like any good party, there was an incredible spread of eats (more on that later), drinks and funky tunes.

But the real show stopper, the main event, was the conversation.

I walked into Kelsey Murphy’s Carlsbad townhouse, nervous to open my heart and thoughts up for discussion with complete strangers. I thought I might have a Glennon Doyle moment where I share a raw truth and the group looks at me sideways and I think, “Oh. We’re not doing that here.”

After warm hugs and introductions with the other eight women, we were met with buttery croissants, scones and perfectly fresh berries beautifully displayed by Anne, the chief hostess of the group. Signature chocolate-peanut-butter-with-all-the-healthy-stuff smoothies lined the countertops.

Within a few minutes of about me’s and storytelling, it became clear. We were doing all of that here.

We sat comfortably in an ocean view family room, sharing our current career status and latest obsessions. All honesty, no judgements.

There was a momtographer, a real estate agent, a freelance event planner, a copywriter, a nutritionist, a virtual assistant, a former paralegal and one woman who’s taking on field trips full time to find what lights her up inside. We were all there for different reasons; some of us looking for jobs we were more passionate about, others looking for relationships we were more passionate about.

But we were all there to connect.

Kelsey, the truth-telling, entertaining and skillful life coach, led our group in meaningful conversations about everything from particle physics to sacred friendships.  She asked the right questions, going deep into the heart of what each of was looking to get out of our time that day.  There was nothing fluffy about her approach; all actionable items to cultivate more meaning and intention in our daily lives.

She guided us through the skill of practicing confidence, discovering and exploring our curiosities (and saving the word “passion” for the bedroom), and finding and connecting with like-minded people.

As a mom of one and with one on the way, spending the entire day on soul work felt like taking the biggest deep breath I’ve had in months. I took the day to remember me; the things I love, and the person I want to be.

When all was said and done, there was writing, there were women, heck it was even a little like church with all that soul in the room.

It was one of the best soul party’s I’ve ever had.

And the best part? I realized I can have soul parties everyday, in every conversation; from the Uber driver, to my husband and every relationship in between.