This March

The title of this picture was food-woman-camera. Knock off that camera bit and I think we know who it’s talking about.

Listen, we all know how I feel about March. But surprisingly, on this first day, I’m actually not feeling half bad.

Perhaps it’s because I know I only have one month left until we meet Jacob? Possibly. There’s also the air of “maybe” to this month. “Maybe he will come a little early.” What a nice thought, right? Hit 39 weeks and all of a sudden the stars align and Jacob will decide it’s time to meet us. Let me state I know this is seriously unlikely, and I’m really trying to hold off on any thoughts relating to the matter. My doctors literally had to cut me open to pull Jackson out of his warm, cozy spot- and that was after 41 weeks of gestation and 32 hours of labor, so I know the odds aren’t really in my favor. But it’s still giving March a slight glimmer.

My attitude is also strongly influenced by the fact that Glenn just finished up his night class- CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH! For the first time in months, I won’t be solo parenting after work twice a week. Instead we will get to enjoy family dinners, cuddles, and splitting up taking care of Jackson (before the baby comes and we’ve each got a kid to manage). More time to enjoy my nights after work, more time to not have to think about doing dishes while I hang out with my boy (thanks babe!), and more time to hang out with that dude I like so much.

Also, I’m in the home stretch of pregnancy, baby. Yea, I don’t sleep much at all and I’m definitely uncomfortable most of the day. But at almost nine months, the weight of every day pressures seem less intense and everyone is telling me to take it easy. No major DIY home renovations, no big plans, just being for the next few months. Work is a bit crazy right now, but I know it will slow down considerably in the upcoming weeks and then I get two months away from it entirely. It’s also so lovely thinking that I’ll be spending eight weeks at home with two beautiful boys (albeit with a lot of crying and sleepless nights.)

Plus I have license to eat really caloric, wonderful things now and then and people don’t give me any side eye when I say I need a break. Which I am not lying about, because holy crap I’m tired, but it’s nice to not feel like a lazy excuse of a human being.

This weekend, I’m looking forward to an amazing brunch that my best friend is holding to celebrate Jacob. Breakfast foods and hours of chatting? Yes please. As for the rest of the month, we’ve got bits and pieces to finish up before the baby gets here but nothing big enough to be wearing on my mind. Instead, I’ve got my eye on a fantastic book and we’re planning lots of family fun days during the weekends.

It’s going to be a good month.

Love is around the corner

 

It’s finally Friday and it feels so good. While the week wasn’t bad, today is crisp and clean and the wind outside is making me oh so glad to be inside. Hopefully I’m able to grasp the edge of this feeling and ride it through to the weekend.

My amazing mother in law is throwing our soon to be littlest boy a celebration dinner this Saturday. I was adamant I didn’t want a sprinkle, so she conceded and we are having family over to have a nice, laid back barbecue. I’m looking forward to good food and watching Jack and his cousin laugh and scream and play (they have such a blast together.)

It’s so crazy to think that in just over five weeks we will be meeting our (second) son. That soon enough these little feet that poke out of the top of my belly and disappear whenever I try to grab them will be part of a whole little boy that I am going to fall madly in love with. Some days it feels like it will be forever before I get to meet him. I felt this way with Jack too. There are some women that love being pregnant, but I much prefer my babies in my arms where I can kiss their cheeks and smell their sweet milk breath.,

A well-timed fortune

Until then, though, I’m lucky to have my sweet boy. He definitely has made the wait easier this time around and gives me all the love I could have ever dreamed to give and receive. I fully intend on making these last weeks extra special for him as he nears the end of his time as an only child. It’s a time I know he will never remember, but one I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

 

Things bringing me joy this week

My husband stopping me to put his hands on my belly and kiss his baby boy underneath

Hearing my son say “I love you daddy” (seriously, how could this get any better?)

The smell of my favorite spring-time perfume

Getting our tax refund and breathing a gigantic sigh of relief as we head towards maternity leave

Finishing a really fantastic book, knowing that I took the time to do something I really enjoy

Having my eldest little baby curl up in my arms while my youngest taps away in my belly


45 more days until the next phase of our life begins. I can’t wait to love another little boy with the all consuming, life-altering love that I have for Jack.

Christmas Traditions: Part II

Happy Wednesday!

The rain is coming down swiftly outside, and I’m inside with my heater going.

Is it just me or is this week going unbearably slow? I think I say this every week, but this one in particular is like molassess. I feel like a child again, I just can’t wait until it’s finally Christmas.

Now that it’s only a short FOUR days away (FOUR! Yay!), I figured I’d finish off the rest of our Christmas Traditions list.

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Christmas Eve- Growing up, my father’s family always celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. Starting with his own parents, who often worked late into the Christmas Eve night, the family would wait until my grandparents came home and unwrap their presents before going to bed. Years later and many states away, my father would bring my sister and me to celebrate Christmas Eve with my uncle and his family. My Mexican aunt would make the most amazing chicken tacos for dinner, my uncle the most amazing chocolate fudge, and everyone would open at least one present.

We still get together every Christmas Eve, though times they are a changing. I’m not sure what the future of Christmas Eve will look like in terms of company, but I am quite sure that we will always celebrate it with Opa. Now that Jackson is here, we will also be giving him a present (or two) to unwrap before going to bed. This will most likely be his pajamas for the following Christmas morning (more on that later), but may also include a little toy that he can play with (because, let’s be honest, what kid gets excited about clothes?)

Breakfast Cinnamon Rolls- Every Christmas morning, without fail, my father would get up from bed and immediately start a pot of coffee and put together a coffee cake for breakfast. My sister and I would always spend this time staring at our stockings, like racers on the start line, waiting until the moment he was finished so we could begin The Unwrapping. The coffee cake was always done about halfway through opening presents, and everyone would get a piece to nibble on while we spent the morning together.

I loved always knowing that we’d have something warm and sweet on Christmas morning, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the cake. After we got married and had Christmas morning to ourselves in our new house, Glenn and I agreed that cinnamon rolls were vastly superior. While I’ve debated doing a semi healthier approach (like waffles with strawberries), cinnamon rolls require much less effort- which can, in turn, be used for opening presents.

Stockings- A few years back I actually debated nixing stockings completely, as it was just Glenn and I and it seemed a bit too much on top of our presents to one another. However, we’ve slowly come to using the stockings as our gifts for one another. And of course, the introduction of kids means that the tradition is going to stay. This year, I am only including a side toy I picked up for Jackson in his stocking, but as the years go on I will have to put more effort in. However, Glenn and I have really come into our own on the stocking front, and our current roommate (my cousin) will also be benefiting this year. Among the various items you’ll find on any stocking-stuffer list, my favorites for adults always include a chocolate orange, liquor, and some lottery tickets. You know, all the vices.

Matching Pajamas- I mentioned Christmas Eve pajamas earlier, but this really translates to my love of the babies wearing matching pjs for Christmas morning. My sister in law, bless her amazing self, has gotten on the matching pj train with me. Last years it was candy cane onsies, which melted my heart into a puddle. This years are slightly different, sets instead of onsies, but are still ridiculously adorable. I look forward to doing this to the little ones until they are old enough to realize they can refuse.

This, of course, leads to the final tradition-

The Babies Opening Gifts Together On Christmas Morning- I hadn’t realized how important this would be for me until last Christmas, when Jackson and his cousin B were still infants. Perhaps it’s because I grew up opening Christmas presents with my own cousins every year on Christmas Eve, or perhaps it’s because neither has any siblings right now (it’s definitely because we are all very close), but I can’t imagine a Christmas morning that doesn’t have these two together. This is also the time that Jack’s aunt visits from Seattle, so it’s extra special to get that time with the two of them together. Of course, I imagine this may change as the families grow and get older, but nothing can beat watching my favorite two kids together on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to see how much they love it this year, since they are in their prime unwrapping phase and old enough to enjoy all the Christmas goodies. I, myself, will be enjoying extra squishes and kisses that I can steal from them.

And that’s that. There are more, smaller, traditions that I’m sure I’m overlooking, but these are the big ones that I hope Jackson remembers as he grows up. Traditions have always made the holiday seasons that much more special in my mind, as I’m sure it does to everyone to some degree. It’s something you know you can rely on, an act that provides a sense of continuity and comfort over the years. Some may fade with time, but the precious few we hold on to can transport us back in an instant.

As A Mom- Singing

At least once a day, I’ll note how I’ve changed since becoming a mother. It could be anything as simple as letting a friend know that any night out must begin before 7pm, regardless of the activity. Or it can be as big as watching my son and husband roughhouse and feeling more love than I ever knew. Some are big, most are small. But I have found that one interesting result of having Jackson is how I sing.

I’ve never been much of a singer. I grew up surrounded by people with beautiful voices- a cousin who practiced opera, my first boyfriend who was in choir his entire life (to this day), many, many friends, and so forth. And I tried, on several occasions, to follow in these footsteps.

Let me get to the point and say that it never turned out well. I will never forget the look on my sweet first boyfriend’s face as he tried to think of a kind way to tell me the bad news.

So I resigned to singing alone in my car with the windows up and the radio blaring. When I pulled up to a stop light, I would stop so none of the other passengers would be able to see (or worse, hear) me.

As my husband, Glenn has absolutely heard me sing the most- but I have to admit I still feel a ping of embarrassment when I try to hit a note that I have no business trying to hit. He’s a sweetheart though and never mentions it.

But something changed when I became pregnant. All of a sudden, it became absolutely imperative that I find a song for my baby that they would have for the rest of their lives. More than a lullaby, I wanted something that could randomly show up and remind them just how much I love them and how much they mean to their father and I.

We didn’t know at the time whether Jackson would be a boy or a girl, but I knew it was especially important to find the right song for a son. It seems that nowadays, songs about men are generally quite demeaning- either emphasizing the guy being an idiot, or expressing how horrible he is to women. That wouldn’t do for my sweet baby, if he were a boy I wanted him to know just how loved and special he was.

I decided on the Carpenters, “Close to you.”

An odd choice, I imagine, for anyone that didn’t grow up with my mom. But it echoed the sentiment I wanted my son to feel.

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

Why do stars fall down from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair
Of golden starlight in your eyes of blue

Over my pregnancy, I would practice this song over and over and over. Not only did I hope my little one would hear it and remember it once he was born, but I honestly also hoped to get better at singing it.

I don’t remember the first time I sang it to him after he was born. It seems odd that I don’t, since it had become so important in my mind. It was likely once we got home, though it’s possible I had sung it to him once we got out of the more intensive sections of NICU, where there was a little more privacy. Nevertheless, it’s the song that I still sing almost nightly.

In the year and a half that I’ve been singing to Jack, I can honestly say several things. One, I’ve gotten significantly better at singing it (though I’m no Karen, let me tell you). Two, while babies love listening to you sing in their first year of life, later on it means they’re going to bed and they are no longer as happy to hear it. And third, I know without a doubt that someday he will love hearing it again.

When I reflect back now, I remember how much I would love hearing my mom sing when we were younger. I always thought she sounded beautiful and always wanted to hear her sing more. Never once did I judge her voice, it made me feel safe and loved. And I hope that’s what Jackson feels when he hears me singing.

I will never join a choir, I will never sing loudly in a room full of people (I’m not sure when this would ever happen, but I wouldn’t do it nonetheless), and I still sing in my car with the windows up and the radio blasting.

But I do feel much more comfortable with my voice. It’s not perfect, but it brings my baby comfort (when he’s not screaming that he doesn’t want to go to bed), and that’s more than enough for me.

I’ve already decided what the next baby’s song will be. A little preemptive, but once you know, you know.

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows so surely to the sea
Oh my darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
So take my hand, and take my whole life too
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows so surely to the sea
Oh my darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
So won’t you please just take my hand, and take my whole life too
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love, in love with you
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love, falling in love,
I keep falling in love with you

Ingrid Michaelson, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”

Christmas Traditions: Part I

I love this time of year. More than presents and cold weather (although hell yes), I love the emphasis on traditions and family. Since I got married, and much more since Jack was born, I’ve been thinking of what traditions I want to continue as our family moves forward.

There are, of course, the traditions you do on Christmas day and the ones that you do prior in anticipation of the holiday. The former is too far ahead for me to be thinking of at the moment, but the latter is perfect for the weeks leading up to the big day.

Lifetime movies– This is something I do with my mom and sister (the husband isn’t as keen on this genre, surprisingly). What better way to get in the mood for Christmas than cheesy festive movies that always end happily? Add in some seasonal food and a roaring fire, and you’ve got yourself an instant Christmas season.

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Dancing to Christmas music– Be still my heart. My little boy has developed a strong love for swaying to Christmas ballads in his mama’s arms. Only better is when he tries to hold my hand while doing so.

Picking out a tree– When I was younger my father refused to get a real Christmas tree, arguing that my asthma would be terrible with the tree inside the house. Whether it was actually because of that or whether he just didn’t want to dole out money every year is still something I need to discuss with my therapist, but thankfully my asthma has gotten better and Glenn also enjoys the fresh smell of pine in our home. Going out to pick out our tree as a family has definitely become an integral part of preparing for the season.

Traumatizing my child– We’ve added visiting Santa to the lineup since Jackson’s arrival in 2015. He wasn’t too thrilled to meet the big man this year, but it made for a hilarious timeless photo.

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Yearly Christmas ornaments: Growing up, we always got an ornament that depicted something special that happened to us throughout the year. While I love them, I much prefer the metal ornaments with pictures for Jackson. So far I have one of his newborn picture and the two subsequent fall photos we’ve taken at 4 months and 1 year. This way I’ll have a visual representation of him throughout the years.

Christmas cards: Ever the mail junkie, I am mentally compelled to send these pretty pieces of Christmas joy. It’s fantastic enough getting regular letters, Christmas cards are 100x better.

 

I’m still thinking of other ways to incorporate the season into daily life during this month. It’s especially hard with work, but it’s such a fantastic time of year that I can’t possibly think of letting it pass so quickly.

Summer Days

Being a southern Californian, it is near heresy to admit that I’m not super fond of summer.

I know, I know. I’m sorry.

That said, there are certain days when everything is just perfect. These days are so much more common when you’re at the beach.

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Last Sunday we packed Jackson, a picnic, and lots of sunscreen and headed to the shores. We got there fairly early, and despite being August in the middle of vacation central, the beaches weren’t that packed (trust me, this was amazing).

After quickly settling our spot, Jackson, his grandma and I headed down to the shoreline. This child LOVES the beach (especially eating the sand) . He also has zero fear, so we made sure to keep a close eye (and constant hand) on him as every  other minute he’d try to dart out into the waves.

It was so fun to watch him. He laughed as the water came over his feet. He splashed and grabbed at seaweed passing by. He watched intently as seashells tumbled along the sand as the tide pulled back in. Again and again, like there was nothing else to do except just be there.

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After a good hour of playing at the edge of the tide, we went back to the tent to have a little lunch and take a break from the heat. Grandma gave Jackson his bottle and they hung out in the shade as Glenn and I went out into the waves.

With the sun warming our backs, we gasped as the cold water hit us higher and higher and laughed as the waves knocked us over. I haven’t been in the ocean like that for years and, at the risk of sounding completely cheesy, it was honestly freeing in a way I haven’t felt in a while. I wasn’t thinking about what else I had to do that day, I was just feeling all the different sensations- the hot sun, the cold water, the taste of salt, the graininess of the sand. It pulled me out of my head and let me enjoy that moment.

That night all of us slept soundly; that deep sleep that only comes from a full day of having fun out in the sun.

That’s the beauty of summer that I have been missing.

All the Lovely Things: Breakfast boards

Have you started planning for your weekend yet?

I’m having brunch with two great friends on Saturday morning. I’m planning on making a breakfast board, a somewhat variation of charcuterie, with crusty breads, hard boiled eggs, berries, cheese, and jams. The past month I’ve also been collecting (*cough* hoarding) chocolates and wines given to me as birthday gifts, all of which I hope will create a delicious morning feast.

Cup of Jo breakfast board

Cup of Jo: Breakfast Board

Of course I will be serving my favorite coffee in addition to all the boozy delightfulness.

I recently received this rose gold initial necklace as a birthday gift. It’s so sweet and I love having Jackson’s initial with me wherever I go.

Nashelle initial necklace

Nashelle Rose Gold Initial Disc Necklace

Not a gift, but something I’ve been staring at dreamily for months now. Can’t you imagine this in the living room of a beach house with the waves tumbling outside?

Ballard Whale

Whale Diptych Art

Finally, in the spirit of wedding season, this is a post I’ve revisited probably fifty times in the past three years. Read it and remember, it will make your marriage that much easier.

Lydia Netzer

15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years

A Desert Weekend

This past weekend, we spent four relaxing days with my cousin and her husband at their new home in Nevada. Having traveled with Jackson before, I think both my husband and I were approaching the trip with a little trepidation. Lucky for us, my cousin is one of those hosts who manages to make everything easy and fun.

The road there is 100% desert, so there were only so many landscape pictures I could take from the car (especially since it went up to 113F the first day, making me almost completely unwilling to roll down the window.)

Despite the high heat, the looming mountains in the distance were stunning.

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Once we arrived, we hugged and chatted for a bit before finding our way to their backyard oasis. Shaded by the patio and outlined in paths of rock and desert plants, the clear blue pool took center stage. Beyond the walls and over the horizon was another gorgeous view of mountains in the distance.

The pool was perfect for hot, summer days. We spent hours in the water, splashing around with Jackson and lazily floating back and forth.

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That night (and every meal thereafter), we were fed like kings. I am still dreaming about this shortcake with tequila-soaked pineapple (yes, it was as amazing as it sounds!)

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Jackson even got a little extra special treat!

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We spent the weekend sleeping in, wine tasting, bowling, eating, and just hanging out and talking. It was definitely one of the most relaxing and comfortable weekends I’ve ever spent at someone’s house.

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We left Monday morning, and despite a wrong turn that led us to the gates of Las Vegas (so close, yet so far away!), we were rewarded with even more gorgeous mountain views. We arrived home a few hours later well rested and thoroughly content.

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All pictures, unless otherwise indicated, are taken by me.

Happily Ever After- The Invitations

Love you then, Love you still. Always have, Always will.

My oldest and dearest friend is getting married to one amazing guy this fall. Ever since their engagement earlier this year, I’ve been buzzing with excitement.

I love weddings. I love the heartfelt words and watery eyes and butterflies. I love seeing family and friends traveling distances near and far to celebrate the happiness of two people they love dearly. I love the glittering decorations, decadent cakes, and celebratory bubbles. I love being out of breath from dancing and celebrating, and I love the quiet moments of watching the bride and her father on the dance floor.

I love it all.

Thankfully, my friend is more than willing to share this beautiful time in her life with me. In the next few months, I’ll be soaking it all in- first as I plan her bridal shower and bachelorette party and then as she and her new husband take their vows.

Which brings me to last night.

Tootsie called me a few weeks ago to ask whether I’d be up for an invitation stuffing party. Yes, she actually asked. Like she didn’t know all she had to do was say the words wine and wedding and I’d already be there.

So last night we all met up in her cozy condo. We poured wine and her talented fiancé cooked up an amazing dinner. We chatted for hours as we worked, taking sips of chilled rosé here and there and laughing constantly.

It was a gorgeous night, full of camaraderie and excitement for the future.

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